Hot & Spicy

Chillis at different stages of ripeness (picture  mrbigben.com)
I "lurve" chillis and cannot imagine cooking my favourite traditional dishes without them. I have even successfully included them in some of my fusion recipes where their presence has created a new taste dimension! You would either love them or hate them and those who love them attest to the fact that chillis do transform a dish!

Scotch bonnet Chillis (pic ofgate.com)
There are hundreds of varieties of chillis known and used by humans. They are desired for their flavour and aroma which are believed to define dishes in which they have been used. Consumption of chillis cuts across continents from Africa to Asia and South America.

All chillis contain a substance known as capsaicin which is responsible for the heat they provide when eaten. Chilli varieties have varying contents of capsaicin dictating how mild or hot the resulting dish is.

Ground dried Chillis
Chillis are generally believed to have medicinal properties. Medical research shows that they can act as an effective decongestant, thin blood and aid digestion. They also contain small quantities of minerals and vitamins such as vitamin A & C.

Nigerians eat a lot of chillis in comparison with other West African nations. There is a popular adage which says, "a life without chilli is a weak life!" They are used a great deal in traditional cooking.


Cooking with Chillis
Scotch bonnets (rodo) is the most widely used variety of chilli in Nigerian cooking and is rated as Extra hot!
Take care when handling them. To reduce heat you can remove the seeds before cooking.

Dropping them whole into stews or soups rather than blending with other ingredients also reduces heat.

Those who suffer from stomach ulcers or those who cannot tolerate spicy foods must avoid eating chillis.

Cameroon Pepper
Some common chillis found and commonly used in Nigeria include Scotch bonnet (locally referred to as rodo), Bird's eye chillis (locally called ata wewe or ata shombo), ground dried chillis called ata gigun. 

Also Cameroon pepper - a really aromatic and flavourful black coloured ground pepper with a moderate heat. Excellent for dishes like isi ewu and pepper-soup.

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