Here at Henry’s, we want you to feel comfortable around Chilli, and help you to better understand this delicious and widely used fruit. We will start with some basic History…

Amazingly, the growth of chilli peppers dates back as far as 7000BC. They were primarily found in Mexico and were cultivated from around 3500BC. Mexican People used it as a spice in their dishes, something that is still done today. Chilli was given to the rest of the world by Christopher Colombus, who famously discovered America in 1493. Columbus had set off from Spain with plans to reach India to bring herbs and spices back to his country. He famously mistook America for India, but maybe lesser known, mistook chilli as the black pepper. This is how Chilli got the name “Chilli Pepper.”

Chilli began to spread to other European countries and became an important aspect of many European cuisines. It became particularly successful as part of Portuguese dishes. In 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco-da-Gama reached India bringing with him the pungent and delectable spice. Chilli seeds were brought to North America for cultivation and 1888 experiments began for cross-breeding of many different varieties of chilli plants. New breeds of chilli plants began to grow. In 1906, a new variety of chilli, Anaheim, was grown. Soon, more chilli varieties were evolved such as the strong breed of Mexican chile.

The Scoville Organoleptic Test

In 1912, Wilbur L. Scoville, a pharmacist found a new method to measure the pungency of the desired chilli. This new method came to be known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. Unlike, earlier methods, the Scoville test was highly subjective and accurate in the measurement of the strength of different chilli varieties. It is still used today.

There are now more than 400 different varieties of chillies found across the globe. The world’s hottest chilli “Naga Jolokia” is cultivated in the hilly terrain of Assam in the small town of Tezpur in India. Chilli became massively popular in India after it was first brought to India by Vasco-da-Gama. Chilli managed to find its way to Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical system. According to Ayurveda, chilli has many medicinal properties such as stimulating good digestion and endorphins, a natural pain killer to relieve pains. The release of endorphins gives a feel-good effect, which can also combat depression.
Today, it is unimaginable to think of India cuisine without chilli. India has become the world’s largest producer and exporter of chilli, exporting to USA, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and many countries across the world. It contributes a massive 25% of the world’s total production of chilli. Some of the hottest chillies are grown in India and Indian chillies have been dominating the international chilli market. The Majority of chilli grown in India is cultivated in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.