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Contributed by: Jennifer A. Wickes

Chiles are also known as chile peppers, hot peppers and chillis.

History and Geography

Christopher Columbus discovered chiles on his arrival to the New World. Now these peppers from the Capsicum family play an intrical part in the following cuisines: Africa, China, India, Mexico, South America, Spain and Thailand.


There are more than 200 varieties of peppers, each with its own season and degree of heatness. They also vary in size and color. The largest can be as large ar 12 inches, and the smallest as small as ¼ inch! Dried chiles and chile powders are available year round, usually in Latin American and Asian markets. Examples of some chiles: Anaheim, Ancho, Bird, Caribe, Cascabel, Cayenne, Charleston Hot, Cherry Peppers, Chilaca, Chile Colorado, Chipotle, Fresno, Guajillo, Guero, Habanero, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeño, Jamaican Hot, Mulato, Pasilla, Pepperoncini, Pequín, Pimiento, Poblano, Red Pepper, Ristra, Santa Fe Grande, Scotch Bonnet, Serrano, Sweet Peppers, Thai Chile, Togarashi.

How To Select Your Chiles

Choose your chile with deep vivid colors. Avoid any chile that is shriveled or has any soft spots. Usually, a larger chile is milder. Most of the heat of a chile is contained in the veins and the seeds. Cooking and freezing does not diminish the heat intensity of a chile, so removing the veins and seeds will greatly help.

A Word of Caution

It is very important to wash your hands after handling these peppers. Your skin and eyes can burn from the juices contained within the peppers. Some people are really sensitive and require gloves while handling chiles. If you burn your mouth from a chile, try eating a piece of bread to reduce the sting. If you do burn your fingers, try soaking your hands in milk or yogurt.

Food and Spices

Chocolate, cilantro, coffee, cumin, paprika

Cooking Hint

If you are cooking something and it has become too spicy, make it milder by adding noodles or a potato. These will help absorb some of the heat!

Nutritional Information

Chiles are cholesterol free, low in sodium and calories. They are high in Vitamins A and C, and a good source of folic acid, potassium and Vitamin E.

Health Benefits

Chiles are mostly grown in hot countries, as eating them will help cool your body temperature down by sweating a lot quicker than drinking a cold beverage. This theory has been utilized by native cultures to help bring down a fever. Also, hot chiles can help ease congestion by making your sinuses run, and they help kill bacteria in your body! You can make a paste of 9 parts flour, 1 part olive oil and 1 part cayenne pepper. Add enough water to make a paste. Sandwich this mixture between two cloths and use on arthritic joints.

Scoville Units

This is a method to determine the heat of a pepper.

Mild: 0 to 2,500 Scoville Units

Anaheims, Anchos, Mulato, Pimiento, Poblanos, Pasillas, Sweet Peppers

Medium: 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville Units

Cascabel, Cherries, Chilaca, Chipotles, Fresno, Guero, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeños, New Mexico, Pepperoncini, Red Pepper

Hot: 10,000 to 100,000 Scoville Units

Bird, Caribe, Cayenne, Charleston Hot, De Arbol, Guajillo, Jamaican Hot, Pequín, Santa Fe Grande, Serrano, Thai Chile, Togarashi

VERY Hot: 100,000 to 300,000 Scoville Units

Habanero, Scotch Bonnet


"Hot" Chocolate

  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of Mexican sweet chocolate (or your favorite cocoa)
  • Cayenne pepper

Combine the milk and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. When the milk begins to simmer, add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely dissolved. Remove the cinnamon sticks, and pour into mugs. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper!

Yields: 4 servings

Basic Chiles Rellenos

  • Peanut oil, for deep-frying
  • 4 ounces diced green chiles
  • 2 cups grated jack cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1-tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour

Pour oil in electric deep fryer. Preheat at 425F for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, drain green chiles and remove seeds. Cut cheese into strips. Insert a strip into each chile. Dredge each in flour and set aside. Beat egg whites to a soft peak. Beat together egg yolks, flour and salt until mixture is smooth; fold in beaten whites. Coat each cube with egg mixture, drop in hot oil. Fry till golden brown. Spoon hot oil over chilies while frying to brown tops. Remove and drain.

Serve on warm platter topped with prepared enchilada sauce.

Yields: 4

Source: TJ Hill - Appetites Catered

This article was originally published at Suite 101.
Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cookbook Reviews" and "Cooking With The Seasons", which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet! For more information about Jennifer Wickes or her columns, please go to:

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