Red Chillies

Red chilli peppers are popular as a cooking ingredient and give a hot flavour to dishes. However, they also have several applications for health and wellbeing. 

The heat of your curry is generally determined by the amount and type of chilli peppers used in the recipe. There are many types of red chillies, all of which produce a different intensity of heat. Red chillies are generally hotter and sweeter than green chillies.


Chilli peppers are classified as Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family.

Their intensity comes from the compound capsaicin found in the pepper and is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that sends messages to the nervous system) and capsaicinoids (a metabolism enhancer that is responsible for the heat associated with eating chilli peppers).

Chilli peppers originated in Mexico. Following the travels of Christopher Columbus, and the introduction of the new fruits and plants he found, they began to be used across the globe, both in food and traditional medicine from the fourteenth century.

Types of red chilli

The differing heat producing qualities of each type of red chilli is determined by the variety of the pepper and by the conditions it is grown in. There are hundreds of varieties.

The strength or heat of each type of pepper is measured in Scoville heat units.

The higher the Scoville score the hotter the pepper. Scoville scores range between zero for red bell peppers through to cayenne peppers at mid-range, and on to scotch bonnet and bird’s eye peppers at the top end of the scale.

Using red chillies in curry

Fresh red chillies are best used for cooking by finely dicing them and adding to the dish to increase the level of heat. They do not tend to alter the taste of the recipe.

The heat of red chillies comes mainly from the seeds, so removing the seeds before putting the chilli into a dish will give less heat.