Are You Still Using Chilli Powder in Your Spicy Dishes?

As chillies are becoming more and more popular in today's world, chilli-heads are beginning to realise that there's a whole lot more to spicy cooking than simply adding "powdered heat" in the form of a chilli powder or mixed spices. And that's a great thing.

Often, chilli powders are very generic and made by grinding up generic chilli peppers that have been dried.

Here are 2 reasons why using a chilli powder to "flavour" or heat up your dish may not be the best way:

First of all, as with any drying process and long time storage, as soon as peppers are picked from the plant, they start to lose their flavour almost immediately - think fresh coffee beans. The fresher the better when it comes to flavour.

Second of all, often these off the shelf chilli powders use green chillies, because they have a longer shelf life, but are more bitter than their red cousins. Also you are only getting the "taste" of one type of chilli.

Each chilli has unique taste and heat characteristics...

There are actually thousands of different varieties of chili available, each with their own unique flavour characteristics. Some taste smoky, some are bitter, some are sweet, but one thing is for sure, using a generic chile powder is certainly not allowing you to experience the world of different aromas that are available.

And it's not all about the heat. A little known fact about peppers is that they can deliver their heat in different ways. Some are very harsh from the first bite and some take some time to build up. So again, it is all up to whether or not you want a warm up before you get that sought after burn!

You can choose from the hottest pepper in the world, the Bhut Jolokia or Naga to the most outrageous looking "Chilli Willy" Pepper.

Fantastically, many chilli-heads are becoming aware of the vast array of flavours and heat levels available from using fresh chillies, or at least dried whole chillies to cook their spicy dishes with, and what better way to get this variety and freshness factor than to grow your own chillies at home!

Growing your own chillies at home from seed.

It's really very easy, but will require a little care and attention on your part, but the rewards include plentiful fresh chillies to cook with every season (chillies will actually come back with a crop year after year if you "over-winter" them properly).

Sure you can buy some very hot peppers at the supermarket, but there is a lot more satisfaction and diversity to be had from growing your own. All you need is to choose some chilli seeds, sow your seeds around March, although you can also sow later if you wish, and keep your seeds warm and moist, but not soggy (an airing cupboard is perfect for this) until they sprout. Once sprouted, you will need to move your seedlings to a well lit area such as a sunny window sill and water only when the soil is touch try.

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