Indian cooking immediately brings to mind, spice and spice immediately brings to mind, chillies. The many varieties of chillies available here allows us to use different chillies for different requirements in our cooking such as colour, pungency and heat. Most of us rely on store bought chilli powder but do you know what kind of adulterations are added to give the colour? This is why I make my chilli powders at home. Normally, I buy four types of dried red chillies; Kashmiri, byadagi (from Karnataka), Gundu milagai and the regular long red chillies, sun dry them and powder them for use in my cooking. Of course, I can never get the bright red colour of the store bought chilli powders. And now, I have also started making the green chilli powder, again by sun drying the green chillies (for 3-4 days) and powdering them.
Apart from the health benefits of green over red chillies, the green chilli powder is mild and gives a lovely aroma. Remove the seeds before drying if you want less heat in your green chilli powder. Because of its more delicate aroma I use the green chilli powder on most of my North Indian subjis, dals, soups, salsa verde etc. It can basically be used in any recipe where the red colour of chillies is not a requirement.
Whether it is red or green chillies, both have their own individual health benefits. Green chillies are known to help in managing blood sugar levels, good for the skin and heart and red chillies are helpful in iron absorption, relieve congestion, burn fat etc. Chillies are also a good source of Vit C, Vit A, B1, B2, beta carotene, protein, calcium and phosphorus. There have been many cases of inferior quality and discoloured chillies being mixed with Rhodamine B and Red Oxide to improve the colouring. Such “coloured” chillies are actually exported to other countries for using as husk in furnaces and clearly marked as being unfit for human consumption. But within India, the same artificially coloured chillies are ground and sold as inexpensive, edible chilli powder . Other additives used are brick powder, talc, starch, water soluble coal tar, sandstone etc. I bought a packet of chilli powder to do a simple water test to check for adulteration.
I added a small quantity of two different chilli powders to 2 glasses of water; one glass had home made chilli powder and the other had store bought chilli powder by a leading brand. You will notice that the water is clear in the glass where home made chilli powder was added. The water in the other glass is coloured. So, there you go! You may not get such a fine grind at home as the store bought powders and I have no problem with that. If you are looking for a super fine grind, you can always sun dry the red chillies and get it ground at a local mill.