16.6.2024 Article

Subtle hints of plum. Tones of rosehip. A suggestion of liquorice. You’d be forgiven for thinking these descriptions apply to a selection of fine wines. So how about if we told you they all refer to types of chilies? Join us as we take a closer look at this fascinating, flavourful spice together with Paulig's product developer and inhouse chili expert Malin Eriksson. 

Malin Ericsson

Over a long career at Paulig and in the restaurant business, Malin Eriksson has become a leading authority on the subject of spices. More often than not, you’ll find her in Paulig's test kitchen, applying her years of experience and well-trained sensory skills to an aromatic batch of newly acquired Santa Maria spices. On the subject of chili, Malin is particularly knowledgeable, having gained a deep understanding of this much-loved ingredient over many years. 

A global hunt for Santa Maria chili

As well as being the world’s most commonly used spice, chili is often one of the most misunderstood. Everyone knows it can add heat to any dish, but that’s only a small part of the story. The versatility chili offers in the kitchen is perhaps one of its biggest and most well-kept secrets. At Paulig, we’re committed to exploring new culinary avenues, and unlocking the potential of chili takes us to some exotic locations. Paulig sources chili from countries as diverse as Peru, Mexico, the USA, Spain and India, and as Malin explains, this global hunt has led to some exquisite finds. 

- Chili is a member of the capsicum family, which also includes bell peppers, potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes and even Goji berries. In the chili branch of the family, you’ll come across names we’re all familiar with – Jalapeno, Cayenne, Ancho and Habanero spring to mind. However, we’re also out there scouring the world for chili types that people might not be so familiar with. Gujillo, Roccoto, Pequen, for example.

Set your imagination free

For many years, Paulig has strived to develop one of the market’s best and most diverse spice ranges, under the iconic Santa Maria brand, and the variety of chili types Malin describes is an integral part of this. 

Santa Maria chili

- There are over 5000 different types of chilis, and while we can’t claim to have sourced, tested and used all of them, we’re committed to a journey of discovery that starts in some distant farmer’s field, continues to our test lab, our factory and finally, onto your plate, says Malin.

Today, the Santa Maria brand offers products that range from pickled and dried chilis to powder mixes, flakes and sauces. But how can chili enhance cooking and what do certain types offer in terms of flavour?  Malin explains:

- Chili really opens up a huge world of possibilities in the kitchen. The full-bodied flavours of Ancho or Paprika give depth, richness and foundation. Chipotle, which is smoked using mesquite wood, adds a roundness that works well with honey and lemon, for example in a marinade or glaze. Gujillo has a distinct rosehip flavour and although it doesn’t add body like Ancho, it’s still a fantastic ingredient that can be used to build layers of flavour. The important thing to remember when cooking with chili is that it isn’t just there to rack up the heat in your dishes – with a little imagination, it can do so much more.

Bring passion to your kitchen

Chili recipes

So, what is Malin’s favourite chili destination? Without hesitation, she describes colourful visits to Oaxaca, a city generally regarded as Mexico’s gastronomic capital. And her favourite chili dish? Too many to mention perhaps, but Ceviche with Amarillo, a yellow chili from Peru is mentioned. 

The world of chili Malin describes with such enthusiasm is exotic, colourful and bursting with flavour. It will be Paulig's continuing mission and pleasure to capture all this - and a little bit of Malin’s passion – and bring it to your kitchen. 

Fun fact

Did you know that in South America, chili types are given names while in India and China, numbers are typically used?

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