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Food glossary

Chilli

Chilli

There are hundreds of different varieties of chillies ranging from very mild to scorchingly hot. The strength of the chilli depends on the amount of capsaicin, a volatile oil, in the seeds and pith. It is this oil that can burn the skin and eyes, so when preparing chillies it is best to wear rubber gloves and cut out the seeds and pith. If you do use bare fingers make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

As a general rule the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is. If you're not sure of the strength of the chillies you are using, use in moderation to start with, taste the dish and add more if required. Waitrose stock a variety of fresh chillies and chilli products, these include:

Anaheim chillies

These are very large, mild green chillies. They have a sweet flavour and are very similar to green peppers.

Uses: Best served stuffed and cooked whole, rice and cream cheese-based stuffings work particularly well.

To store: Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To prepare: Slice off the top and remove the seeds and white pith with a small, sharp knife. Fill with your chosen stuffing and replace the top.

To cook: Bake stuffed anaheim chillies for 20-30 minutes at 180°C, gas mark 4 for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

Crushed chillies

Made from whole red chillies, crushed chillies contain the seeds and the pith and have a concentrated spicy flavour. They are especially popular in Mexican cuisine. They are sold in small jars with the herbs and spices.

Uses: In Mexican dishes such as chilli con carne, and in Indian and Indonesian dishes. Crushes chillies can also be sprinkled sparingly over pizzas and in sauces and pasta dishes for a distinctive chilli flavour.

To store: Keep in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

To use: Add 1/2-1 tsp of crushed chillies to recipes, and adjust according to personal taste.

Dried Madras chillies

Very hot and spicy whole Indian chillies that have been dried. Madras chillies are quite large and are a deep dark red colour. Dried chillies are sold in packets and need to be rehydrated before use.

Uses: Widely used in Indian cuisine, Madras chillies add a spicy flavour to sauces, curries, stews and casseroles.

To store: Keep in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. Once rehydrated store in the fridge in an airtight container and use within 2 days.

To use: Soak the chillies in water for 20 minutes then cut them into strips or purée before using. To enhance the flavour, dry roast the chillies in a frying pan before rehydration. Do not let them burn as this will make them bitter.

Fresh hot chilli in sunflower oil

A convenient form of chillies, this fiery red paste is sold in small jars with the herbs and spices.

Uses: Substitute fresh hot chilli paste for fresh chillies in any recipe, it is especially useful in sauces, soups and casseroles, where it blends easily with the cooking liquid.

To store: Keep in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within 6 weeks.

To use: Stir 1 tsp of chilli paste into recipes at the beginning of the cooking time, adjust the amount used according to personal taste.

Green chillies

Mild fresh chillies that are plump and medium-sized.

Uses: Suitable for use in dishes where a mild chilli flavour is required, particularly good in Thai, Chinese and Indian recipes and in curry pastes.

To store: Keep in the fridge for up 1 week.

To prepare: Remove the seeds and pith from the inside of the chilli and chop the flesh finely and include in recipes. Wash hands and utensils thoroughly after contact

Guntur hot chilli powder

Guntur is a town in south east India that gives its name to a hot and spicy chilli, which is often ground into a powder. Gunter chilli powder is a basic ingredient in Indian cookery.

Uses: Guntur chilli powder is a popular ingredient in a wide variety of Indian recipes and can also be used in Mexican and Indonesian dishes.

To store: Keep in a cool dark dry place for up to 1 year.

To use: Use 1/2-1 tsp for 4 servings and adjust the amount used according to personal taste.

Habanero chilli

The hottest of all chillies, the habanero chilli is a squat, box shaped chilli from Mexico. It should be used sparingly. Red habanero chillies are available from Waitrose.

Uses: Habanero chillies are popular in Mexican and Carribean dishes where an intense heat is required.

To store: Keep in the fridge for up 1 week.

To prepare: Wash thoroughly in cold water. Remove theseeds and pith from the inside of the chilli and chop the flesh finely and include in recipes. Wash hands and utensils thoroughly after contact with chillies.

Hot chilli powder

An American-style blend of chilli pepper with spices, oregano and salt.

Uses: Ideal for adding to savoury dishes that require a particularly spicy flavour, use in Mexican-style dishes such as tacos or tortillas or include in tomato-based sauces, dressings or dips.

To store: Keep in a cool dark place in an airtight jar for up to 1 year.

Medium chilli sauce

A thick dark red sauce with a subtle chilli flavour.

Uses: Suitable for use in marinades, stews or casseroles, dressings or sauces.

To store: Keep in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

To use: Sprinkle into recipes and adjust the amount used according to personal taste.

Mild chilli powder

An American-style blend of chillies, spices, oregano and salt.

Uses: Use in chilli con carne or to spice up dishes such as Bolognese sauce or shepherd's pie. Mild chilli powder can be used in dips, sauces, dressings and it goes particularly well in cheese-based dishes.

To store: Keep in an airtight jar in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.

To use: In recipes use 1-2 tsp for 4 servings, depending on personal taste.

Piri piri chilli peppers

These are whole bright red medium sized chillies preserved in brine with their stalks and calyx (not for consumption). They are very hot and are especially popular in African countries and Portugal. Piri piri chillies are also known as pil pil and are sold in small jars.

Uses: Piri piri chillies can be chopped and added to sauces, soups, stews and any savoury dish where a hot and spicy flavour is required.

To store: Keep in a cool dark dry place. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 28 days.

To use: Piri piri chillies are very spicy, so use sparingly at first and then adjust the quantity according to personal taste.

Pickled chillies

Hot green and red chillies preserved in brine and vinegar are sold in Waitrose.

Uses: Pickled chillies can be added to salads, kebabs, hors-d'oeuvres, sandwiches and a variety of meat and fish dishes and any savoury dish where a hot and spicy flavour is required.

To store: Keep in a cool dark dry place. Once opened store in the fridge and use by the best before date.

To use: Pickled chillies are very spicy, so use sparingly at first and then adjust the quantity according to personal taste.

Red chillies

Small, fiery fresh chillies that add a hot and spicy flavour to a variety of savoury dishes.

Uses: Suitable for including in dishes where a hot and spicy chilli flavour is required, they are ideal for Mexican-style recipes and particularly good in salsas, dips and dressings.

To store: Keep in the fridge for up 1 week.

To prepare: Remove the seeds and pith from the inside of the chilli and chop the flesh finely and include in recipes. Wash hands and utensils thoroughly after contact with chillies.

Sweet chilli sauce

A traditional sweet and fruity sauce which was originally from the Szechuan region of China. The sauce is made by simmering red chillies with sugar and tamarind juice.

Uses: Add to Oriental-style savoury dishes for a mild fruity flavour or serve as a dip to accompany spring rolls or wontons.

To store: Keep in a cool dry place. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 1 month.

To use: Add 2-3 tbsp to recipes and adjust according to personal taste.

Thai chilli dipping sauce

A sweet, fruity light red sauce with a spicy kick.

Uses: Thai chilli dipping sauce can be served as a dip for spring rolls, wontons or plain meat or fish. It can also be included in a wide selection of Thai recipes including soups, stir-fries and fish dishes.

To store: Keep in a cool dark place and consume by the use by date.