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types of chillies in India

10 Super Fiery Types of Chillies in India | Willing to Try?

When it comes to Indian food, you can’t miss the spicy and fragrant tastes that chillies add. Indian food is incomplete without chillies, which give many meals their heat, colour, and depth. There are many different types of chillies in India, which shows how rich its food history is.

In this article ‘Types of chillies in India’, we’ll talk about the different types of chillies in India, including their traits, how they’re used in cooking, and how they vary from region to region.

Importance of chillies in Indian cuisine

There are many ways to use chillies in Indian food, and each way brings out a different flavour. Whole green chillies, often cut in half lengthwise, are often used in seasoning, or “tadka.”

This sizzling process lets the chilli’s smell come out and gives the dish a fresh, green heat. When dried whole or broken up into bits, red chillies add a deeper, smokier heat.

For an extra kick, you can sprinkle these fiery flakes straight on top of curries or dals. For a more complex heat, you can use them in spice blends like garam masala.

With powders, chillies can be used in even more ways. Depending on where they are made and what kind of chilli is used, these powders can be anything from the bright red Kashmiri chilli, which gives food a rich colour without too much heat, to the spicy Guntur chilli, which is known for its strong spice.

Many types of curries, from the creamy korma to the hearty vindaloo, are built around these powders. When you carefully mix chilli powder with other Indian spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin, you get a unique mix of tastes that is very Indian.

In addition to stews, chillies are an important part of many regional dishes. In South India, spicy green chillies are an important part of sambar, a lentil stew, and chutneys, sweet and sour foods that go well with coconut.

In the west, they make Maharashtrian soups more colourful and make Goan vindaloo more smokey. North Indian street food like samosas and pakoras taste better with fragrant green chillies, and Bengali meals taste even better with pickled red chillies.

Not only do chillies make things hot, but they can also make them taste a little smokey. Before being ground, dried red chillies are often roasted or charred, which gives spice mixes and pastes a deep, complex flavour.

One food that brings out this smokey flavour is Rogan Josh from Kashmir. The smokey flavour goes well with the rich meat and yoghurt gravy.

Chillies can be used in more than just savoury recipes. They are used to make both fresh and pickled chutneys, which go well with Indian food because they have a range of sweet, sour, and spicy tastes.

Green chillies are even used in some treats, like the candied green chilli from Gujarat, which is a surprising and tasty mix of sweet and spicy.

Brief history of chillies in India

In India, chillies have been grown for a very long time. Chillies are thought to have been brought to India by the Portuguese in the 1600s. Indian food wasn’t known for being spicy before that.

When chillies came to India, they changed the way people cooked, and soon they were an important part of many regional dishes. India is one of the biggest countries in the world that grows and eats cilantro.

The country has a lot of different kinds of chilli, and each one has its own special taste and amount of heat. They are used in daily cooking as well as making homemade pickles with a variety of chillies.

Types of chillies in India

India is home to a plethora of chilli varieties, each with its own distinct flavour and heat profile. Some of the popular ones include:

Kashmiri Chilli

The crown jewel of colour in the chilli kingdom is the Kashmiri chilli. Unlike its fiery cousins, it boasts a deep, almost brick-red hue thanks to a specific balance of capsaicin (the heat compound). This translates to a gentle warmth that enhances other flavours without burning your taste buds.

Kashmiri chilli is the secret weapon behind the visually stunning curries of Kashmir, like Rogan Josh. A sprinkle of this magic powder transforms a simple dish into a masterpiece, boasting a rich red that awakens the appetite and a subtle heat that lingers pleasantly on the palate.

It’s a true testament to the power of chillies not just for adding heat, but for creating a symphony of colour and flavour.

Byadagi Chilli

Beyond its vibrant colour and pleasant heat, Byadagi chilli boasts a unique flavour profile. Unlike some chillies that overwhelm with spice, Byadagi offers a subtle sweetness that complements the smokiness imparted during roasting. This characteristic makes it ideal for spice blends used in South Indian cuisine.

The Byadagi chilli even holds a Geographical Indication (GI) tag, a testament to its distinct quality and link to its origin in Karnataka. 

This prized chilli elevates the complexity of beloved dishes like sambar and chutneys, while its beautiful red hue adds a touch of visual flair to any South Indian culinary creation.


It is native to the northeastern region of India. This fiery chilli pepper goes by various names, prominently recognized as the bird’s eye chilli.

Renowned for its intense heat, it adds a bold kick to culinary creations. From zesty pickles to vibrant sabzis (vegetable dishes), hearty dals (lentil preparations), and crispy snacks like pakoras and bhajiye (fritters), this potent ingredient finds its way into an array of dishes, elevating flavours and igniting taste buds with its spicy allure.

Naga Viper

Naga Viper is a hybrid chilli pepper known for its extreme heat level, making it one of the hottest peppers in the world. It is a crossbreed between several different chilli varieties, including the Naga Morich, the Bhut Jolokia, and the Trinidad Scorpion.

The Naga Viper pepper typically has a wrinkled appearance and ranges in colour from green to red when fully ripe. Due to its intense spiciness, it is used sparingly in cooking and is often incorporated into hot sauces, spicy dishes, and chilli pastes for those seeking an intense heat experience.

Despite its formidable heat, the Naga Viper also possesses a distinct fruity flavour, adding depth to dishes that can withstand its fiery punch.


Originating from the Sankeshwar region of Kolhapur, Maharashtra, this piquant pepper boasts a diminutive size and a distinctive wrinkled appearance.

Renowned for its formidable heat, it is often blended with an assortment of dried spices to craft the quintessential garam masala powder.

Its fiery essence is a staple in both chicken and fish curries, infusing them with depth and intensity. Additionally, vegetable curries benefit from its potent flavour, lending a fiery kick to the culinary repertoire of the region.

Mathania Mirch

Mathania Mirch is a type of chilli pepper that is native to the Mathania region in Rajasthan, India. It is known for its unique flavour profile and moderate to high level of spiciness.

Mathania Mirch is often used in Rajasthani cuisine to add heat and depth of flavour to various dishes such as curries, chutneys, pickles, and snacks. These chilli peppers are typically dried and ground into powder form for convenient use in cooking.

Mathania Mirch is cherished for its ability to enhance the taste of dishes while infusing them with a distinctive fiery kick.

Jwala Chilli

Jwala Chilli is primarily grown in the Gujarat region of India. It is known for its sharp, pungent flavour and medium heat level. The name “Jwala” translates to “flame” in Hindi, which aptly describes the fiery nature of this chilli.

Jwala Chilli is commonly used in Indian cuisine to add spice and flavour to various dishes such as curries, chutneys, and snacks like pakoras and bhajis. It is also frequently dried and ground into powder form for extended shelf life and ease of use in cooking.

Due to its popularity and versatility, Jwala Chilli remains a staple ingredient in many Indian households and culinary traditions.

Bhut Jolokia

As a whole, chillies add flavour through their heat, but some, like the Bhut Jolokia, also called the Ghost Pepper, stand out for how intense they are. This fiery red pepper comes from the northeastern parts of India.

It has a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) number that can go over a million, which makes it one of the hottest peppers in the world. Due to its extreme heat, you should be very careful.

While its relatives are used in large amounts in everyday cooking, Bhut Jolokia is usually used in very small amounts to add a faint but noticeable spicy touch to curries, pickles, or even chutneys for the really daring.

Teja Chilli

Teja Chilli, a slender and fiery red pepper cultivated in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, is renowned for its intense heat and fruity flavour profile.

Its vibrant hue and pungent kick make it a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine, where it is used to elevate the spiciness and depth of flavour in various dishes such as curries, chutneys, and pickles.

With its high capsaicin content, Teja Chilli not only adds zest to culinary creations but also offers potential health benefits, including metabolism-boosting properties.

Highly prized for its potency, Teja Chilli remains a beloved choice among spice enthusiasts and chefs alike.

Guntur Sannam

Guntur Sannam is predominantly grown in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is characterized by its long, slender shape and vibrant red colour when ripe.

Guntur Sannam peppers have a high heat level and are known for their intense spiciness. They are commonly used in Indian cuisine to add heat and flavour to various dishes, including curries, chutneys, and pickles.

The peppers are also dried and ground into chilli powder, which is a key ingredient in many Indian spice blends.

Guntur Sannam peppers are prized for their robust flavour and are a popular choice among chefs and home cooks for adding a fiery kick to their dishes.

Characteristics and heat levels of different chilli varieties

Chili Name Heat Level (Scoville Heat Units)
Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) 800,000 – 1,000,000+
Naga Viper 1,000,000 – 1,350,000
Teja 75,000 – 100,000
Jwala 30,000 – 50,000
Mathania 20,000 – 30,000
Sankeshwar 50,000 – 100,000
Guntur Sannam 35,000 – 40,000

Culinary uses of different types of chillies in Indian dishes

Indian cuisine offers a wide range of dishes that make use of different types of chillies. Let’s explore some of the popular culinary uses:

  • Kashmiri Chilli: Kashmiri chilli is often used to impart a vibrant red colour to dishes like Rogan Josh, a popular Kashmiri lamb curry. It is also used in marinades, sauces, and biryanis.
  • Byadagi Chilli: Byadagi chilli is a staple in South Indian cuisine. It is used in dishes like sambar, rasam, and chutneys to add a rich flavour and a hint of spiciness.
  • Guntur Chilli: Guntur chilli is a favourite among spice lovers. It is used in fiery Andhra dishes like Chicken Chettinad and Gongura Mutton. It also finds its way into spicy pickles and powders.
  • Bhut Jolokia: Due to its extreme heat, Bhut Jolokia is used sparingly. It is often added to chilli sauces, marinades, and even in small quantities to give a fiery kick to curries and stir-fries.

Regional variations in chilli consumption and preferences

India is a vast country with diverse regional cuisines, and this is reflected in the consumption and preferences of chillies.

In North India, Kashmiri chilli is popular for its mild heat and vibrant colour. In South India, Byadagi chilli is widely used for its rich flavour and medium spiciness.

The coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are known for their love of spicy food, and Guntur chilli is a favourite there. In the Northeastern states, Bhut Jolokia is a staple ingredient, adding intense heat to traditional dishes.

Health benefits of consuming chillies

Apart from adding flavour and spice to dishes, chillies also offer several health benefits. They are rich in vitamins A and C, which are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. chillies are also known to boost metabolism and aid in digestion.

The capsaicin present in chillies has been found to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Additionally, chillies can help in weight management by increasing satiety and reducing cravings.

Cultivation and production of various types of chillies in India

India is one of the largest producers of chillies in the world. The favourable climatic conditions and fertile soil make it an ideal country for chilli cultivation.

The major chilli-producing states in India include Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

The cultivation of chillies involves careful selection of seeds, proper irrigation, and pest control. After harvesting, the chillies are dried and processed before being sold in the market.

Conclusion: Exploring the diverse world of Indian chillies

The story of Indian chillies goes beyond mere heat. It’s a tale woven with the threads of regional traditions and cultural influences. Kashmir, known for its delicate flavours, utilizes the vibrant Kashmiri chilli, offering a stunning red hue without overpowering the dish.

In contrast, the fiery Guntur chilli of Andhra Pradesh lends its boldness to fiery curries like the legendary Chettinad cuisine. These regional variations showcase the adaptability of chillies, catering to diverse palates across the vast Indian landscape.

Beyond geographical influence, chillies hold a deeper significance in Indian culture. In some regions, they are believed to ward off evil spirits or bring good luck. Stringing together red chillies is a common practice during festivals and auspicious occasions, symbolizing prosperity and fiery passion.

The use of chillies in pickles and chutneys also reflects a resourceful culinary tradition. These condiments not only enhance flavour but also act as natural preservatives in hot climates, ensuring food safety and extending shelf life.

The beauty of Indian chillies lies in their ability to cater to all preferences. For those seeking a milder experience, dishes might utilize sweeter varieties like Jwala, offering a smoky aroma without intense heat.

Restaurants often offer options to adjust the spice level, ensuring everyone can enjoy the symphony of flavours that chillies create.

So, the next time you encounter an Indian dish, take a moment to appreciate the chillies not just for their heat, but for the rich tapestry of culture, tradition, and culinary ingenuity they represent.

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