Chillies are used to enhance both the flavour and piquancy of recipes. Just as mustard enhances boiled ham, creamed horseradish adds to the flavour of roast beef, and garlic is used in multitude of mediterranean dishes, the object is to enhance a meal, not to overwhelm it. Unlike these examples which offer little variation, there is a vast range of different chillies with very diverse flavours and degrees of pungency. For the creative cook chillies offer boundless possibilities.
In countries like Mexico where chillies have been an essential food item since time immemorial, it is not usual to add only a single type of chilli to a dish. Several, or indeed many, sorts of chilli will be used to add richness and complexity to the flavour of a dish. This, of course, requires practice and access to a wider range of fresh chillies than is readily available in UK supermarkets. Which is why growing your own carefully chosen selection of chillies makes a lot of sense.
As a general rule fleshy chillies are good for eating fresh, char grilling, making salsas and stuffing; thin fleshed chillies dry well and make good chilli powder.
We have now added an article on choosing the best chillies for particular uses.
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