The chili pepper (also chile pepper or chilli pepper, from Nahuatl chīlli is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in
, Australia , New Zealand , India and other Asian countries is just chilli without
Chili peppers originated in the
After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the
world, used in both food and medicine. These chili peppers arrived in Americas Asia by the hand of the
Portuguese navigators during the 16th century.
Spelling and usage
The three primary spellings are chili, chile and chilli, all of which are recognized by dictionaries.
Chili is widely used in the United States and Canada. However, it is also commonly used as a short name for chili con carne (literally chili with meat). Most versions are seasoned with chili powder, which can refer to pure dried, ground chili peppers, or to a mixture containing other spices.
Chile is the most common Spanish spelling in Mexico and several other Latin American countries, as well as some parts of the United States and Canada, which refers specifically to this plant and its fruit. In the Southwest United States (particularly northern New Mexico), chile also denotes a thick, spicy, un-vinegared sauce, available in red and green varieties, and served over the local food.
Chilli was the original Romanization of the Náhuatl language word for the fruit (chīlli) and is the preferred British spelling according to the Oxford English Dictionary, although it also lists chile and chili as variants. Chilli (and its plural chillies) is the most common spelling in Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore and South Africa.
The name of the plant bears no relation to Chile, the country, which is named after the Quechua chin ("cold"), tchili ("snow"), or chilli ("where the land ends"). Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are some of the Spanish-speaking countries where chilis are known as ají, a word of Taíno origin. There is also some disagreement on the use of the word pepper for chilis because pepper originally referred to the genus Piper, not Capsicum; however this usage is included in English dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary. The word pepper is commonly used in the botanical and culinary fields in the names of different types of chili peppers.