Cayenne pepper is part of the capsicum anuum species, thus related to [bell peppers (pilipili hoho), paprika (pilipili mbuzi) and jalapenos]. It is also known as, Zanzibar pepper, African pepper or capsicum fruit. In Swahili it is known a udaha. In description cayenne pepper is a hot chilli pepper, generally skinny, 10cm -25cm long, red and with a curved tip, that comes out hanging from its upright growing parent plant.
As I write about this fiery spice, I am going to try as much as I can to distinguish cayenne pepper from Paprika. Though they may appear similar in color, cayenne pepper is more spicy than paprika and thus as a condiment should be used sparingly.
Though the history of its origin is not well known, some say it originated from South America, where it has been under cultivation for millennia, and the Spanish and Portuguese spread its cultivation to other sub tropics region, others the Cayenne region of French Guiana, Cayenne deriving from a Tupi Indian name, thus the name cayenne pepper; it is mostly cultivated in East Africa, India, Mexico and is a favorite in all cuisines from this regions. The Indians and East Africans chew it as a snack.
Cayenne pepper is available in a variety of forms; fresh, as a whole fruit, ground/ powder form or as a paste. It can also be found as an constituent in spice blends. All these can be home-made or processed and found in retail stores/ supermarkets.
Despite its specific name, and the supposed use of special chiles for it, there is little to distinguish cayenne from ordinary pure chilli powder, except that commercial ‘chilli powder’ usually contains other spices such as garlic or cumin, and is rougher in texture.
In culinary Cayenne pepper can also be used on seafood, all types of egg dishes (devilled eggs, omelettes, soufflés), meats and stews, casseroles, cheese dishes, hot sauces, and curries. They are also used in some varieties of hot sauce blends.
Cayenne’s primary chemical constituents include capsaicin, capsanthine, beta carotene, flavonoids, and vitamin C
- Health benefits of cayenne pepper include:
- Prevent heart disease
- Aiding gigestion
- Ease cramps
- Lower high cholesterol
- Help in coagulation of blood if applied directly to cut
- Reduces the likelihood of developing arteriosclerosis by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride level