Chile peppers are popular in food. They
are rich in vitamin C and are believed to have many
beneficial effects on health. The pain caused by capsaicin
stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, natural
opioids which act as analgesics and produce a sense
of well-being. Psychologist Paul Rozin suggests that
eating chiles is an example of a "constrained risk"
like riding a roller coaster, in which extreme sensations
like pain and fear can be enjoyed because we know they
are not actually harmful.
The fruit is eaten cooked or raw for its fiery hot
flavor which is concentrated along the top of the pod.
The stem end of the pod has glands which produce the
capsaicin, which then flows down through the pod. Removing
the seeds(citation needed) and inner membranes is thus
effective at reducing the heat of a pod.
Well-known dishes with a strong chile flavor are Mexican
salsas, Tex-Mex chili con carne, and Indian vindaloos
and other curries. Chile powder is a spice made of the
dried ground chiles, usually of the Mexican chile ancho
variety, but with small amounts of cayenne added for
heat, while chili powder is composed of dried ground
chile peppers, cumin, garlic and oregano. Bottled hot
sauces such as Tabasco sauce are made from chiles such
as the cayenne (not, oddly, from tabasco peppers), which
may also be fermented.
Indonesian, Indian, Szechuan and Thai cuisines are
particularly associated with the chile pepper, although
the plant was unknown in Asia until Europeans introduced
Sambal is dipping sauce made from chile peppers with
any other ingredients such as garlic, onion, shallots,
salt, vinegar and sugar. It is very popular in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Singapore.