These peppers average a little over 2 to 3 inches long although the original strain grown in India can vary considerably. When ripe, these peppers come in red, yellow, orange and chocolate colors. The red variety, which is the most common, has two forms, both the dented and smooth. The dented, or rough, form plants are more fragile and the smooth form plants have a higher yield of peppers. The heat of these peppers reputedly comes from the fact the peppers have thin internal walls. The thin internal walls of these peppers make them good for drying while maintaining their heat characteristics.
In India this pepper is used in chutneys, curries and pickles to heat up the basic dish. It is also used as a paste in both pork and fish dishes. The fish dishes are either dried fish or fermented fish. In other parts of the world the paste of the pepper is used to heat up salsa and can be made into an oil when mixed with virgin olive oil and is used in both stews and mayonnaise to spark up their taste profiles. This oil should be used sparingly as the pepper is very hot.
In Northeastern India these peppers are used to keep wild elephants away from towns. The pepper is either mashed and smeared on fences or incorporated into smoke bombs to chase away wild elephants in the area. Police forces in India are using these peppers in smoke bombs to flush out criminals. It is also used in pepper sprays in India for its heat and effectiveness.
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