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This is sort of a dictionary of chiles for those of you who are new to Southwestern/Tex-Mex cooking. Hope you find it useful.

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chile/chili primer

Directions Step-By-Step


Anaheim - Also known as chile verde or simply green chiles, generally mild to medium hot with a slightly sharp, astringent taste. Best all-purpose chile

Ancho - Also known as Poblano or pasilla. Generally a touch hotter and richer in flavor than the Anaheim

Arbol - A long, pointed red chile 2 to 3 inches long; the stems are long and fine. A distinctive flavor with searing heat. Related to the cayenne, arbol is primarily used ground in sauces and you may see it referred to in soup and stew recipes.

Chipotle - These are smoke-dried jalapenos

Hatch - Also called New Mexican chiles, an anaheim chile grown ONLY in the Hatch area of New Mexico. These are only available certain times of the year and are much hotter than the regular anaheim.

Jalapeno - Green or red, hot to ultra hot with a distinctive flavor; use judiciously when flavoring and spicing dishes with this pepper

Pasilla and Poblano - see Ancho

Pequin - A tiny, round red chile. Adds incendiary punch when sparingly added to a recipe

Serrano - Green or red, these are very hot; also known as scotch bonnets

Yellow - also known as Banana peppers or Hungarian wax, sweet to medium hot.

Red (Cayenne) Pepper - Very hot, made from the dried cayenne chile

Chili Powder - A commercial blend of dried chiles and spices such as cumin, oregano, coriander, cloves, salt, and pepper. Mild to medium hot

Paprika - Dried paprika pepper, available in sweet, mild and hot strengths. Hungarian paprika is the most popular. Smoked paprika powder adds a little oomph to your recipe.

Pure Chili Powder - Available in mild, medium hot and hot varieties (generally in the ethnic section of your supermarket in cellophane bags).

Cilantro - A fresh herb resembling parsley, has a spicy astringent flavor.

Coriander - Ground coriander has a sweet spiciness (may be used in recipes which require cooking such as soup or casseroles in lieu of fresh cilantro)

Cumin - This is a necessary spice for Mexican cooking. Can be used as small whole seeds, but most popular as a ground powder. Distinct pungent, musty flavor

Oregano - This very popular aromatic dried herb can be used in ground or leaf version. Mexican oregano is thought by most to be the best oregano.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Side Dishes
Main Ingredient: Non-Edible or Other
Regional Style: Southwestern