Chilli is an important spice for us.
The tamil name for Chilli is "Milagai".
In traditional Tamil cooking, pepper was dominant instead of chilli. Pepper is called "Milagu". Since chilli had a similar hot spice taste, the name for chilli got derived as Milagai (from Pepper - Milagu)
Chilli is brought to India from Mexico thru
Portuguese traders at the end of 15th century (wikipedia)
In present day, Tamil cuisine and in general Indian cuisine, chilli play a major role.
In Tamil cusine, there are various ways of using "Milagai":
While the root topic for this page is Spices, we have included some of the following entries that qualify as vegetables/ingredients.
Green Chilli or Raw Chilli:
We use green chilli in making currys, chutneys, omelettes, etc...
Dry Chilli (Red Chilli):
We use dry chilli instead of green ones to make some dish. Dry chilli is also called Red Chilli.
Sometimes, only a single dry chilli is used to add the just the right amount of spice for a dish.
is used as a side dish mostly to go with Moru sadham ("More" or "Moru" is thinned down yogurt-curd).
This kind of chilli is called "More Milagai" or "Moru Milagai".
Chilli is dried, milled and powdered. This is the most common form of use as shelf life is good and getting green chillies may be difficult for people living in abroad. Chilli powder is used in almost all dishes. This is also called as Red Chilli Powder.
When Chilli powder is mixed with powder from other spices you get mouth watering masala's. Chilli powder and Coriander powder are mixed to make delicious Kuzhambu.
Tradionally, we will dry the chilli and mill them for getting pure and fresh chilli powder when compared to the readily available powder pockets in the super market.
Chilli to make Bajji:
Chilli is usually hot and spicy. There is a kind of chilli which is not hot. We use that to make Bajji. Hence this kind of chilli is called bajji-milagai.
Popular dish where Chilli is used:
These days chilli is used in almost all dishes whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. There is however a campaign going on to move to pepper instead of chilli as pepper is more healthier. Some of the dishes, where raw chilli makes a great spice or ingredient includes:
omelettes, potato podimas, Mutton fry
Spelling variations in Tamil name for Chilli:
Milagai, Mila gai, Milakai, mulagai