When you think of red peppers, which comes to mind? There are in fact so many variants of red peppers (capsicum). The species range in terms of taste from sweet, to bitter, to heat!
They come in both fresh and dried form. The dried peppers (such as Cameroon Pepper) are sold whole or ground and are mainly used to give hotness. Fresh peppers give flavour, colour, thickening and hotness to foods. The seeds and membranes, which are irritating to the skin and some digestive systems, may be removed before being used raw or cooked.
Red peppers are healthy, can be crunchy, can be sweet, and can give heat. This vegetable is used universally to make most meals happen. From soups to pasta sauces, pizza, stew, soups, Jollof rice to every well plated salad! Our lady in Red always does the meal justice.
Here are the most common names given for the various widely found red peppers in Nigeria:
Ata wewe: This is a small, very hot pepper which is usually used dried.
Sombo: This is a long, small pepper which is usually dried. It is not as hot as ata wewe.
Ata rodo: Also called Atanla. This is a medium sized red pepper which is usually used fresh. It provides flavour, hotness and thickens stews and soups.
Tatasai: This is a large ‘sweet’ red pepper which provides flavour and thickening. It is not very hot, particularly if the seeds and membranes are removed.
So now let’s move outside Nigeria……. can we get distracted a little bit because you will be surprised at the other unique blends of peppers out there. For instance, have you heard of the following delicious varieties:
Zulu (black sweet pepper): this capsicum as it ripens turns into a Black panther colour.
Black fang: A delicate fruiting hot pepper that comes in 30-50 distinctive fang like fruits. It’s flavour is similar to the cayenne pepper.
So African Plate says to you, cook away