Red like Kashmiri, a world different in heat…
Byadgi chili fast facts:
- Scoville heat units (SHU): 50,000 – 100,000 SHU
- Median heat: 75,000 SHU
- Origin: India
- Capsicum species: Annuum
- Jalapeño reference scale: 6 to 40 times hotter
- Use: Culinary
- Size: Approximately 5 inches long (usually dried), tapered
- Flavor: Sweet
If authentic Indian cuisine is a must in your kitchen, then getting to know the Byadgi chili (a.k.a. the Kaddi chili or Byadagi chili) should be high on your culinary to-do list. The popular Indian chili (hailing from the Indian state of Karnataka) is a shocking red, much like its cousin the Kashmiri chili. But unlike the mild Kashmiri, there’s a significant heat to this pepper that places it amid extra hots like the Thai pepper and the chiltepin. If you like your Indian cuisine on the more fiery side, then this is the dried chili to stock for fire and a fitting aromatic flavor.
How hot is the Byadgi pepper?
At 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) the Byadgi pepper is at the lower end of extra hot chilies. It’s comparable to a Thai pepper in heat which tops out where the popular habanero pepper begins (100,000 to 325,000 SHU). Against our reference point, the jalapeño pepper, the Byadgi chili is at least 6 times hotter, with the chance to be up to 40 times hotter depending on the chilies compared.
Let’s also look dried to dried: Compared to the most common dried chili in your spice rack – cayenne pepper (30,000 to 50,000 SHU) – the Byadgi typically doubles the heat of this spice rack staple. And against the chili its most often confused with – the Kashmiri chili (1,000 to 2,000 SHU), the Byadgi is a whopping 25 to 100 times hotter than a Kashmiri, so take care – confusing the two can really heat up a meal!
What does this chili look like and taste like?
These chilies are typically used dry, and when dry they keep a rich red color that’s very appealing. In fact, the chemical that creates that color (Oleoresin) in the Byadgi is harvested for use in red dyes for products like nail polish.
In shape, the Byadgi is much like the Kashmiri. The chili pod itself grows to 5 inches in length and tapers to a point. The skin is wrinkled and curved (from the pepper aging to red and the drying process). The Byadgi’s other name “Kaddi” actually means “stick-like” – which fits both the length and the dried quality of the pepper.
Flavor-wise, this hot pepper is a little more sweet and aromatic than comparable dried peppers like the cayenne. Think a flavor more akin to paprika, but with a ton more heat.
How can you use Byadgi peppers?
These peppers are typically used crushed into a powder to provide an aromatic heat for authentic Indian cuisine, like sambar and masala. It can also be used as a paprika substitute for those that like bigger heat, though obviously paprika is obviously much easier to source (available at all supermarkets).
Where can you buy Byadgi chilies?
The good news – it’s being exported now more than ever, making it more available outside of India than it once as. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to source, though. You can buy Byadgi chilies online and you likely can find them in Indian specialty stores. You can also pick up Byadgi pepper seeds if you’d like to grow them yourself.
If mastering Indian cuisine is on your radar, the Byadgi chili (as well as the milder Kashmiri) should find a space on your spice rack. It’s spicier than many comparable chilies, so It’s a perfect aromatic heat for that next Indian masala.