Here at MaRobert's we're big fans of chillies - red, green, hot, sweet - all flavours and varieties. However, cooking with chillies can be a tricky task if you're not so familiar with the different kinds of chilli (and there are a lot!). We've put together what we hope will be a useful guide to using the various types of chilli found in most greengrocers, delis, and supermarkets so that you can be more confident and experimental cooking with chillies in your own kitchen. Enjoy!
Perhaps the most popular variety, the jalapeño chilli hails from Mexico and is used in a variety of dishes. This particular type of chilli ranges in heat from medium to very hot, depending on its growth and preparation method. Jalapeños are usually available fresh, in jars, or dried and smoked (these are known as chipotle chillies and have a sweet flavour). Jalapeños come in green (unripe) or red (ripe) but each colour is great to use.
Tip: If you want the flavour of the Jalapeño without the heat, remove the seeds before adding to your dish. Cooking the chillies also tones down the heat meaning the fresher, the hotter!
Bird's Eye (Thai Chilli)
Though sometimes referred to as Thai chillies due to their popularity in Chinese or South East Asian dishes, the Bird's Eye chilli actually originates from Mexico. Despite their smaller size the Bird's Eye is a more pungent variety and is very, very hot. When mature, the chillies may be green, red, or orange, and are sold in shops as such.
Tip: If you're a spice fiend, try using Birds Eye chillies in dishes such as ramen noodle soup or with Thai fish recipes.
One of the hottest chillies to be grown, the Habanero is also a Mexican variety however are particularly popular in Caribbean cuisine. They differ from the types listed above in that they are shaped like a lantern, rather than long and thin. Habaneros can be bought in green, red, yellow, or orange and are generally sold year round. The Habanero is perhaps most distinctive for its intense, fragrant, fruity taste - all of which matches its fierce heat. The Habanero is the MaRobert's chilli of choice and is used in both our hot and medium sauces.
Tip: To get the most out of Habaneros use them in salsas, marinades, and chutneys; they also go well with tropical fruit. Scotch Bonnet chillies are very similar to the Habanero so, if you're already a fan, try using these varieties in combination.
Pili Pili Kichaa
Pili Pili Kichaa is a Tanzanian chilli which, though small, is extremely hot. The term 'Kichaa' (meaning 'crazy') refers to the level of heat this chilli contains. This variety is definitely not for the faint hearted! Aside from the heat, the Pili Pili Kichaa has a smokey flavour which is a pleasant addition to various meat dishes. This chilli is also renowned for its medicinal properties; for example, it is often used to relieve stomach problems related to digestion.