chili peppers/ pilipili kali

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Chili peppers/ Pilipili kali

Pilipili usioila yakuwashia nini? Though a famous sarcastic Swahili saying that can simply be interpreted as someone being told to mind their own business, has its reference originating from the pungency of chili peppers in one’s mouth.

Chili peppers or pilipili kali as they are known in Swahili, come in all shapes, sizes and color; well they even differ in their spiciness. After salt, chili peppers are the next most used flavoring in our food. Although assumed to have originated from Americas (mostly Mexico), each region has had their own specie growing in the wild, for example, the African Bird’s eye/ African devil (a small chile, growing to only about 1 inch, but they pack a lot of punch. They mature to red...)

We’ve got to give it to the native Indians of the Americas who’ve continuously used a variety of peppers in their recipes for centuries. It is believed that they not only used the chili peppers in their culinary, but also as medicine. Peru holds the highest cultivated capsicum diversity.

To measure the pungency or spiciness of the hot peppers, a tool known as a Scoville Scale, is used. The scale measures the amount of capsaicin (the chemical compound that causes spicy heat) in a pepper and assigns a number in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).

Many varieties of chili peppers exist: however it’s good to note that peppers in general, are commonly broken down into three groupings: bell peppers, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. Most popular pepper varieties are seen as falling into one of these categories or as a cross between them.

Below are five domesticated species of peppers.

1)     Capsicum annuum includes many common varieties such as bell peppers, wax, cayenne, jalapeños, Thai peppers, chiltepin, and all forms of New Mexico chile.

2)     Capsicum frutescens includes malagueta, tabasco, piri piri, and Malawian Kambuzi.

3)     Capsicum chinense includes the hottest peppers such as the naga, habanero, Datil and Scotch bonnet.

4)     Capsicum pubescens includes the South American rocoto peppers.

5)     Capsicum baccatum includes the South American aji peppers


Chili peppers are primarily used as a spice and can be cooked or dried and powdered. Powdered, red chili peppers are known as paprika: we are going to learn about them in one of our subsequent posts.

They can be used in their fresh state, and can be found in retail stores as chili sauces, jams: ground into powder and used as garnish, condiment at table, in spice blends, and even as medicine. Chili peppers are also easily processed in our homes for homemade sauces, jams.

Here are some examples of hot chili peppers as are available in the markets,

  • African bird’s eye/ African devil/ pilipili
  • Bahamian chili peppers
  • Carolina cayenne chili peppers
  • Datil pepper
  • Devil’s tongue pepper
  • Fatalii chili peppers
  • Habanero pepper
  • Jamaican hot chili peppers
  • Madame jeanette chili peppers
  • Scotch Bonette chili peppers
  • Sugar rush chili peppers
  • Tabiche chili peppers
  • Tiger paw NR peppers
  • Tshololo chili peppers


Capsaicin, the main bioactive plant compound in chili peppers, and it has some unique properties.

  • Powerful antioxidant, which is important for wound healing and immune function.
  • Vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting and healthy bones and kidneys.
  • Potassium may reduce your risk of heart disease when consumed in adequate amounts.
  • Improves Digestive Health and Metabolism
  • Provides Joint Pain Relief
  • Fights Inflammation
  • Keeps Your Hair and Skin Healthy

As usual please not that this isn’t medical advice, the information above is for educational purposes only. For references, click




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