If there is any food that characterizes and gives flavor to Mexico, it is the chili. A fruit of spiciness whose genus includes just over 26 species. Its common name comes from Nahuatl chili, and so far more than a thousand varieties of chili have been identified in the world. It is an essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine.
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According to the director general of Cocinarte, Beatriz Attolini, peppers are classified according to their sweet and spicy taste, they are eaten fresh or dried. Of the fresh chilies, the most spicy is the habanero peppers and manzano chili. Followed by jalapeno, serrano, arbol, and chilaca. Moderately spicy chilies include poblano, chipotle, mora or morita, árbol, pasilla and the famous piquín. While less spicy are the mulatto, guajillo, seco del norte and chilhuacle.
As for its health benefits, it is known that the chili serves as a fungicide; it has been found that to contain anticancer properties, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.
Its active ingredient is capsaicin, which gives the characteristic spicy flavor. Additionally, chili consists of water, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, sulfur, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, magnesium and iodine.
Meanwhile, red chilies contain large amounts of vitamins C and A, rather than yellow or green. And in the respiratory tract, chili can act as an expectorant to help with cough or congestion problems. It also can assist in weight loss providing the feeling of fullness, and is believed to inhibit proteins associated with oil production.
It also works as an antioxidant to protect against cardiovascular diseases and digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, strengthens the immune system and energy expenditure increases moderately due to a thermogenic effect.
Now that you know all the properties and benefits that consumption of chili, treat yourself to put the picosito flavor to your food. No wonder Mexico is one of the countries with the most chili consumption.
Know your chilies:
Among the more than a thousand varieties of chili peppers exist, here are some common chilies you will find in Mexico:
Chile de Arbol is also known as either bird’s beak chili or rat’s tail chili. They are a very distinctive bright red color when mature. These peppers can be found either dried fresh or powdered and are often used to decorate wreaths because they do not lose their red color after they are dried. You can substitute Cayenne pepper with Arbol in most recipes.
Jalapeno is a medium-sized chili pepper, mature it is 2–3½ inches long and is commonly picked and consumed while still green, occasionally it is allowed to fully ripen and turn a beautiful crimson red.
Cascabel, also known as the rattle chili, is a Mirasol variety and gets it’s name from the tendency of loose seeds to rattle inside a dried cascabel when shaken. The pigmentation of the fresh chili blends from green to red and darkens when dried.
Habaneros, unripe are green, and they color as they mature. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. They are the hottest commonly used chile in Mexican cuisine so be careful when preparing them.
Poblano is a mild chili pepper. Dried, it is called a chile ancho. The ripened red poblano is significantly hotter and more flavorful than the less ripe, green poblano. The flavor and heat can be unpredictable, occasionally they can have significant heat.
Pasilla or “little raisin” refers to the dried chilaca pepper. Many times grocers miss label these for Ancho chiles. The Pasilla chile is normally 8 -10 inches long and narrower than Ancho.
Morita is a smoke-dried jalapeno, commonly referred to as a chipolte.
Guajillo chili is characterized by it’s thin, deep red flesh. It has a mild green tea flavor with berry overtones, only a small amount of heat. They are sometimes used to make the salsa for a sweet taste with a surprisingly hot finish.
Ancho is the dried form of Poblano and the most widely available dried chili. Different peppers from the same plant have been reported to vary substantially in heat intensity.
Chili descriptions by pocketchangegourmet.com