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Chili in Mexican cuisine

Chili is a key ingredient to prepare the moles, marinades and sauces that make our Mexican tacos in Madrid so irresistible. One of the cornerstones of Mexican cuisine that provides flavor, texture, color and, in many cases, an interesting spicy touch. A product that has been part of the Mexican diet since pre-Hispanic times, when food was based on corn, beans and squash.

In Mexico there are 64 different types of chiles registered that can be consumed fresh, dehydrated, cooked or industrialized for use as a condiment.

Chili, source of vitamins

Chili is rich in vitamins A and C, carotenoids, fibers and minerals. It belongs to the genus Capsicum, which includes 26 wild and five domesticated species, all originating from the American continent.

Taking their hotness as a reference, chili peppers are classified as hot and sweet or peppers. Depending on the degree of maturity, we distinguish between green and dry. Among the dry ones we find the dehydrated chilies and the smoked ones such as the chipotle chili.

Green chili production includes jalapeño, bell pepper, poblano, serrano, chilaca, and anaheim peppers. The dried chiles that are used most frequently in establishments such as Las Taquerías are: ancho, mulato, chilhuacle, chipotle, morita, colorado, and dearbol.

How is spiciness measured?

The Scoville scale is used to measure the level of itchiness. Developed by an American pharmacist in 1912, it involves diluting the chili extract in sugar water. As the amount of water increases, the capsaicin (substance responsible for itching) begins to lose strength. The more water it takes to make the heat undetectable, the higher the chili will rank on this scale.

For example, a sweet bell pepper does not contain capsaicin and is at 0 on the scale. In contrast, the habanero chili reaches 300,000 units, that is, its extract had to be diluted 300,000 times before the capsaicin was undetectable. For the less spicy lovers, what you have to do is discard the seeds and veins of the chili, where the capsaicin is concentrated.

How to prepare a dry chili?

You have to cut the top of the chili and open it to find a dry product, almost dehydrated. You have to remove the seeds and veins. In a frying pan, it is toasted open. First on one side and then on the other. In the end, it is about putting it to soak in warm water so that it hydrates and its flavors are revived.