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The chile pepper, chili pepper or chilli pepper is the fruit of the plant Capsicum from the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The name comes from Nahuatl via the Spanish word chile.
Chile peppers and their various cultivars originate in the Americas; they are now grown around the world because they are widely used as spices or vegetables in cuisine, and even as medicine.
The fruit is eaten cooked or raw for its fiery hot flavor which is concentrated along the top of the pod. The stem end of the pod has glands which produce the capsaicin, which then flows down through the pod. Removing the seeds and inner membranes is thus effective at reducing the heat of a pod.
Well-known dishes with a strong chile flavor are Mexican salsas, Tex-Mex chili con carne, and Indian vindaloos and other curries. Chili powder is a spice made of the dried ground chiles, usually of the Mexican chile ancho variety, but with small amounts of cayenne added for heat. Bottled hot sauces such as Tabasco sauce are made from chiles such as the cayenne (not, oddly, from tabasco peppers), which may also be fermented.
Indonesian, Indian, Szechuan and Thai cuisines are particularly associated with the chile pepper, although the plant was unknown in Asia until Europeans introduced it there.
Sambal is dipping sauce made from chile peppers with any other ingredients such as garlic, onion, shallots, salt, vinegar and sugar. It is very popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
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