Indian Red Chilli powder maybe the most dreaded spice among those who think Indian food is spicy AF. To be honest, some kitchens within India do have a heavy use of the chilli powder in the food but this varies from different cities, to sub cultures to even different families. In short Indian food is not always spicy and if it is you just got unlucky.
There are various types of red chillis used in the kitchen with varying spice level. Popularly 8 types of chilli are used in India. But again if you are new to Indian cooking the next sentence would be something that should be the rule of thumb – The indian version of chilli powder is powdered version of a cayenne pepper which is very different than a paprika which is popularly found in regular supermarkets across the world. Paprika is dried bell peppers and generally also a mix of spices like cumin and oregano thus lowering the heat level.
Can you use paprika in Indian food, well yes and no at the same time. If you don’t prefer heat at all, go ahead with paprika powder but do note that the flavor of the curry/dish would not be the same any more.
All three of them have different spice levels and are used for various dishes. There are 5 more popular red chilli used in India, but I use these threee mainly in my kitchen. This post will be revised as and when I add more chillis to my pantry.
Kashmiri Red Chilli: Known more for its colour than its spice, this chilli is ground into a powder and used not only in Kashmiri dishes but in many dishes across the country and the world to add a beautiful red colour to the dish as well as enhance the dish’s taste. It’s so mild in its spiciness that it measures barely 2000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units)
Guntur Red Chilli: The Sannam chilli has many varieties that are grown not only in Andhra but also in states such as Madhya Pradesh (Central India). It is known for its heat, unless one is used to such a high level of spiciness, you will find many people in tears when eating delicious Andhra dishes.
Byadgi Red Chilli: This chilli is grown in Karnataka. It is is long and has a thin skin, and when it’s dried has a crinkly appearance. It is known for its colour and pungency and is consumed across India.
According to Ayurveda, consumption of red chilli is good during the seasons of autumn and winter but ofcourse in moderation. Use of chilli powder during summer should be highly moderated as it might lead to high pita issues (indigestion).
Recipe using Red Chilli – Goan Pork Vindaloo (made by using Kashmiri Red Chilli)