Chili peppers, which are used to create Chili Powder, originated in the Americas after Columbus made his voyage (Columbian Exchange), and the peppers have been used in many dishes for cooking, as well as being used as a medicinal herb.
Chili peppers (used to make Chili Powder), have been part of the diet since around 7500 BC. It was one of the first cultivated crops in S. America, and has been used in many dishes since then. Christopher Columbus was the first European to contact them, and gave them the name “pepper” due to the spicy hot taste. Chilies were also used for their medicinal effects and curing certain conditions, which was first documented around 1494.
Although chilis were first used in the South and Latin American countries, they quickly spread due to trade (after Columbus discovered them), and made their way in to cuisines for Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, and other Asian cultures. Depending on where the chilis are cultivated and where they are grown, the intensity of these peppers is going to vary; and, when made in to the Chili Powder form, they are even stronger and hotter in intensity, due to the fact that the seeds (the hottest part of the pepper) are used to create the chili powders used in different cuisines.
Culinary & Other Uses for Chili Powder
There are several different cuisines which use the Chili Powder ingredient, and include it in different dishes in their culture. Dried chilis are often converted in to the Chili Powder which is used quite often, due to the accessibility, and due to the fact that it is a bit hotter than some of the peppers themselves. The chili is prominent in many Latin, South, and Central American dishes, but it does find its way in to other cuisines as well. When used for cooking, Chili Powder is usually used as a garnish, as you can control the amount to be used; if added to a dish, it is usually used sparingly, due to the fact that it is extremely hot.
In addition to culinary uses, there are also other uses for the chili and Chili Powder. Some of these uses include:
- medicinal (capsaicin is a safe and effective topical agent for arthritis, diabetic patients, treating herpes, and can even be used to treat headaches)
- psychological (phsychologists claim that eating this food allows individuals to experience extreme feelings, without having any harmful effects to the body)
- used in sprays (for defense mechanisms such as pepper sprays);
- used to protect and defend crops (against elephants and other possible animals or threats).
Although it is mainly used in culinary dishes (whether as a garnish, or used in foods), there are also other uses for the chili. So, regardless of what you use Chili Powder, or how often you use it, there are various ways in which chili can be utilized.