If you are familiar with Thai cuisine, you might have noticed that a few common ingredients are used over and over in their dishes. Coconut milk and fish sauce are a few examples. Oh – and how could we forget chillis? There’s no doubt that many Thai people love eating spicy foods until their lips and nose are as red as Rudolph’s. If you are wondering why that is so, here is everything you need to know about chilis:
The History of the Chilli
Although chillis are used extensively in Thai cuisine, Thailand is far from the minority. Chilis are commonly used in many kitchens all over the world. The first two countries to find and use wild chilli peppers in their food are Mexico and Central America. These nations also have signature spicy dishes. As time went by, chillis were spread to Europe by Christopher Columbus. In the 1500s, explorers from Spain and Portuguese then travelled to Southeast Asia with chilis on their ships. It was then that Thai people began to use chilli in their cuisine.
Some people assume that chilis quickly became popular among Thai people because they were already used to spicy taste. There is some base to this. Centuries ago, Thai people used spicy ingredients like garlic, galangal, and black pepper in many recipes. The fact that Columbus named the produce “peppers” is because of its similarity to black peppers.
Why is chilli so spicy?
Every time we bite into a chilli pepper, there are two sensations that we experience: heat and pain. Whether or not you will enjoy it, however, depends on how well you can take the heat. When you consume an extremely hot chilli pepper, chances are that you will swallow it very quickly so that it goes down your oesophagus. This is why you may not feel as much pain as you would eating less hot chillies.
Regardless of how long it takes you to swallow, the spicy flavour can linger in your mouth for a long time. The first thing that many people do when they feel pain is drink water. If you are used to eating spicy food, you know that water doesn’t put out this fire. Rather, the best way to get rid of the heat sensation is to eat yoghurt, milk, coconut milk, or cucumbers. These foods can make hot sensations subside and disappear quickly.
Why do people eat chilli?
Now that you know chillies give us heat and pain, you might be wondering why some people love them so much regardless. To put it simply, chillies are amazing as a seasoning. That’s it. Most people, including Thais, continue to put loads of chilli peppers or powder in their food to spice it up. Some dishes just are too bland for some people’s liking. Others are too heavy on a certain taste. To make it more flavorful, people put in a spoonful of chillies to balance it out.
Another reason why people love chillies is that they provide many nutrients to our health. No many people know about this, but every colour of chilli comes with its own benefits. Green chillies are packed with vitamin C. In fact, they have enough vitamin C for our daily required need! Red chillies, on the other hand, contain more vitamin A. Believe it or not, a small number of red chillies carry more vitamin A than a whole carrot does! It may sound unbelievable, but it is true. It is insane how much a tiny chilli can do.
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