Bird’s eye chilli, as is with other chillies, originated from Mexico and is now cultivated in other parts the world, specially after the discovery of the New World. In India, it grows in the northeastern region and in the southern state of Kerala. The Bird’s Eye chilli variety found in India is the same as that brought over by the Spanish and Portuguese colonists and traders in the 16th or 17th century during the Columbian exchange. It is cultivated in most of the northeastern states, particularly in Mizoram and Meghalaya.
The Bird’s Eye chilli is well known in the region for its heat level, which sort of contradicts its tiny size. However, unlike other hot chillies, this chilli is accompanied by a unique appetizing aroma and a distinct flavor.
In the state of Meghalaya, the people also enjoy it in the form of pickles.
High Value but Low Return for Farmers
Bird’s eye chilli is extensively cultivated in Meghalaya and serve as a source of income for many farmers. However, since their market is strictly local, they are not able to get a return, which they deserve, as per the value of the chilli. For the value of this crop to be realized, markets need to open. And it’ll happen only when the people will come to know that such a unique produce exists.
Product Idea to Help Open Markets – What Could It Be?
Zizira is working towards promoting the bird’s eye chilli and opening markets for it, so that the local farmers can profit from this high-value crop. Zizira has been marketing the bird eye chilli in the dried form, either individually or as part of the Chilli Combo.
Using bird’s eye chilli to make a product can be challenging. It must match with the palate of our customer. And, for a diverse country like India where food habits changes from state to state, we have to make a product that will be liked by all. Being from the northeast, a place with different food habits altogether further increases the challenge.
Voila! A Chilli Chutney
So, our team decided that the best way to formulate a product from bird eye chilli is in the form of Chutneys. This way, we thought, we’d be making a product in a form enjoyed all over India, but unique in the sense that the ingredients are all from the northeast. We have never formulated products using the Bird’s Eye chilli before and so we took the trials, not knowing how the product will turn out. We formulated a recipe for a hot and sweet chutney. And after fine tuning with the ingredients, we have got our self a wonderful chutney with a unique taste and flavor.
The Bird’s Eye chilli chutney has all the characteristics of bird’s eye chilli but with other ingredients further enhancing its taste and texture. The sweetness of the sugar along with the tartness of the vinegar blend perfectly well with the hotness of the chilli giving a product with a flawless balance of sweetness, tartness and heat level. It can be eaten as a side dish, or it can be used to fire up your chicken or lamb dishes. And, it goes well with momos.
Could be Spice Lovers’ Favorite?
With this product, Zizira is looking forward to catching the attention of all the spice lovers and reaching across to them and to their food plates. We hope to see happy faces enjoying the Bird eye chutney. And on the other side, a happy farmer picking the chillies with love and care, for he knows that he will be deservingly rewarded. In other words, happy faces to everyone involved in the journey of this chilli, right from the farm up to the fork.
Do you know of a recipe using Bird’s eye chilli? Drop in a comment and we will follow up.