The name, which is spelled differently in many regions (chili, chile, or chilli), comes from Nahuatl chīlli via the Spanish word chile. The term chili in most of the world refers exclusively to the smaller, hot types of capsicum. The mild larger types are called bell pepper in the United States, Canada (and sometimes the United Kingdom), sweet pepper in Britain and Ireland, capsicum in Pakistan India and Australasia, and paprika in many European countries. Bell peppers are often named simply by their colour (e.g. green or red pepper).
The chili has a long association with Mexican cuisine as later adapted into Tex-Mex cuisine. Although unknown in Asia until Europeans introduced it there, chili has also become a part of the Korean, Indian, Indonesian, Szechuan, Thai and other cooking traditions. Its popularity has seen it adopted into many cuisines of the World.
The fruit is eaten raw or cooked for its fiery hot flavour which is concentrated along the top of the pod. The stem end of the pod has most of the glands that produce the capsaicin. The white flesh, that surrounds the seeds, contains the highest concentrations of capsaicin. Removing the seeds and inner membranes is thus effective at reducing the heat of a pod.
Chili is often sold worldwide as a spice in dried and powdered form. In the United States, it is often made from the Mexican chile ancho variety, but with small amounts of cayenne added for heat. In the Southwest United States, dried ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic and oregano is often known as chili powder. Chipotles are dry, smoked red (ripe) jalapeños.
Chili peppers are also often used around the world to make a wide variety of sauces, known as hot sauce, chili sauce, or pepper sauce. There are countless recipes.
Indian cooking has multiple uses for chilis, from snacks like bajji where the chilis are dipped in batter and fried to the notoriously hot vindaloo. Chilis are also dried and roasted and salted for later use (ooramirapakaya meaning chillies soaked in sour buttermilk and salt and dried ) as a side dish for rice varieties like daddojanam / Thayir sadam (curd rice) or Daal Rice ( Rice mixed with some kind of cooked lentils). The soaked and dried chillies are also used as a seasoning ingredient in recipes like kootu. In Turkish or Ottoman cuisine, chilis are widely used where it is known as Kırmızı Biber (Red Pepper) or Acı Biber (Hot Pepper). Sambal is dipping sauce made from chili peppers with many other ingredients such as garlic, onion, shallots, salt, vinegar and sugar, which is very popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Chili powder is an important spice in Persian cuisine and is used moderately in a variety of dishes.