Take a look through your spice rack and you may discover you have a small container of chili powder. And if not, check the spice rack at your mother’s house. Chili powder is a pretty common spice in North and Central America, Asia, and India. It is heavily associated with Mexican cuisine as it tends to be the primary spice in many Mexican recipes.
It turns out that chili powder isn’t just a single substance. It is a conglomeration of dried chilies that are combined to create a certain flavor profile. Nearly all chili powders are pungent. As for the level of heat, some are hotter than others. Just know that it is nearly impossible to find a chili powder that is not at least somewhat spicy.
Common Chili Choices
The chili pepper forms the basis of all chili powder recipes. As you might expect, there are different varieties of chili peppers. Some of the more common choices for making chili powder are aleppo, ancho, cayenne, chipotle, jalapeño, and red peppers.
It is not unusual for chili powder manufacturers to combine more than one type of chili in their recipes. But that’s not all. Most manufacturers add some additional spices as well. Typical choices are garlic powder, onion, salt, and cumin. It is all about creating just the right profile that brings out the heat of the peppers while simultaneously adding flavor.
How Chili Powder Is Made
The basic process for making chili powder is surprisingly simple. It is so simple in fact, that a lot of people make their own chili powder at home. You start with choosing your peppers and then drying them. As an alternative, you could buy already dried peppers at the supermarket.
The dried peppers are cooked over high heat for four or five minutes to remove any remaining water. Then they are allowed to cool before being ground in a blender or food processor. As long as the chilies are dry enough prior to blending, you end up with a powdery substance.
Next, you add additional ingredients and whisk everything together. Not only do the extra ingredients add flavor, but they also help to absorb any trace amounts of remaining water. Once whisked together, the combined ingredients can be left out for a few hours to finish drying.
That is really all there is to it. It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of effort to make chili powder. And once you have made some, you can store in an airtight container for up to six months without worrying about it losing its flavor.
Add It to Anything
One of the nice things about chili powder is that you can add it to just about anything. It is not so overpowering as to make it useful for only a small number of recipes. Chili powder is so versatile that Mexican candy makers use it in their recipes all the time. If you are curious as to what that looks like, check out the Chilito Loco website.
In terms of your own recipes, you definitely want some chili powder in your chili. But try adding it to your spaghetti sauce, pizza, and barbecued chicken. It is a terrific addition to homemade tacos and tortillas. Or maybe mix it with ground beef before you throw burgers on the grill. The possibilities are endless.
Chili powder’s simplicity is its most appealing characteristic. It is nothing more than dried and ground chili peppers combined with a few other ingredients in powder form. Despite being easy to make, chili powder can add a tremendous amount of flavor to many different recipes.