Searching For Kashmiri Chillis

The Kashmiri chilli is famed by cook’s for its rich spicy flavour and the deep red colour it imparts in cooking. I have been trying to grow this variety of chilli for 3 years now. So far all attempts to find and grow a true Kashmiri chilli have failed but I think I may be getting closer. Here’s a summary of what I’ve tried so far.

Dried chillis from Sambava Spices, purchased 2009

Kashmiri try 2009
Still unable to find a seed source, I bought dried Kashmiri chillis from Sambava Spices, they look and taste right but the big question is whether they will grow true from the seed.
I also swapped some of my Kashmiri 2009 seeds with Christina in the USA who had also bought some kashmiri chillis to get seeds. Hers came from Herbies Spices and she had grown them the previous year. Christina says of them, moderately hot with a beautiful fruity aroma and rich flavour and colour … sounds promising!!!.

So I  grew from both Christina’s and my shop bought seeds.  2 plants of each var in the polytunnel and 2 plants of each var outdoors .  All 8 plants grew very well with stacks of chillis (particularly those undercover). But before the chillis got a chance to fully ripen DISASTER. Wild pigs got into the potager and polytunnel in mid summer and trashed it; turfing out all the chilli plants as they dug through the soil. Plants and labels were scattered and in the high heat of summer most of the plants were past the point of being able to recover even though I tried re-planting as many as possible. In the end I did get some fully ripe chillies from 2 remaining plants which both produced different looking pods neither looked like the dried peppers I had bought but both had a rich spicy flavour and deep red colour. The rub is I don’t know which plants I had left. So this year I will grow both seed types again and see what happens.

Kashmiri try 2008

Image 'Kashmiri' chilli 2008, too pale and thin to be the real thing

In 2008 I swapped seeds with Primo in Louisiana to get some Kashmiri seeds. When I grew these Kashmiri Chillis last year they we even further off the mark. The plants grew well if a bit straggly, in the polytunnel, and had clusters of thin pale chillis. The chillis were very slow to mature in fact they never really ripened to a full red but dried themselves out on the plant. The chillis were 6-7cm long and thin about 1 cm at the widest end tapering to a fine point. These chillis were a straight forward sharp hot, at a guess about a heat level 6-8/10, not particularly fruity and very pale so no colour to be had from these chillis. Again a disappointment but nevertheless a nice hot chilli good for drying, powdering and curries.

Kashmiri try 2007

Colins Kashmiri chillis fresh

In 2007 Colin in Bristol tried to help by sending some seeds from cooking ‘Kashmiri’ chillis peppers he had. He did not know if they would grow true but I was willing to give it a go. The plants grew really well outdoors and produced a good crop of 12cm long peppers, 2-3 cm wide at the top and tapered to a sharp point with a slight curve. These chillis were a deep, dark red, and strangely dry, they almost dried themselves on the plant. The picture above is of the chillis just harvested. These chillis had the colour I was after but non of the flavour or heat. A disappointment but an interesting chilli to grow the plant was beautiful and prolific and the peppers made a lovely mild paprika powder that did give dishes the lovely red colour I was after.

Colins Kashmiri Chilli Dried

There is not that much information on the internet about the Kashmiri chilli for growers but here’s a couple of sources and what they say:

According to the Chileman “Originally a variety grown in Kashmir India, it is now a generic term for any medium long dried red chile. ‘Deghi Mirch’ is also a mild flavored red chili powder used extensively in Indian Cuisine for its colouring properties. It is more sweet than hot. ‘Guajillo’ is an appropriate substitute.”

According to Chile-Head “The true Kashmir chile is native to the northern-most state of India and is much in demand for its bright crimson colouring, a quality it imparts to cooking. So much is the Kashmir chile (Kashmir Mirch) in demand that there is not enough total annual crop, to go round, and pretenders or mock-Kashmir chiles are passed off in its place. The true Kashmiri chile is deep crimson with a smooth, shiny, thin skin when dried. It is about 5 cm long by 2.5 cm wide and has a fruity flavour. Heat level is 4.”

So why am I so mad keen to grow this particular chilli?
The simple answer is I want to grow all my cooking ingredients. The Kashmiri is a medium heat chilli from the mountains of Kashmir in India and it is an essential ingredient in lots of Indian recipes.  I don’t really mind if what I get is not a true Kashmiri chilli so long as it has the two signature characteristics I am after; rich spicy flavour and that deep red colour.

Seed Swapping
If anyone else has seeds of the Kashmiri or knows of a source or has seeds for chillis with these characteristics then I’d love to hear from you. It is not that I am obsessive you understand :-)  its just that I REALLY WANT TO GROW THESE CHILLIS.

Updated from original post   25/2/2009

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13 Comments

  1. I have these seeds…

  2. hi my name is david from Walsall England.

    i am after the true kashmiri chillie, where can i get them from in westmidlands,i have been cooking indian food for 10 years, but this chillie is hard to find, so can anybody help me, i will pay the postage, dose any body know people in northen india to send these chillies over her, so we can can have and enjoy the true chillie in our food.

    many thanks dave walsall

  3. hi i have planted these seeds for more than a month and have many huge and many more babies growing. the issue is that, its autum here in new jersey n soon the cold wave might start. my plant r in the soil on the ground n r not potted that i can get them indoors. what shall i do? will the plants die? pl. adivice.

  4. some chillis take a while to turn red – it mostly depends on the temperature and sunshine availabe to them. Try to be patient!!! Once a chilli has passed break point like a tomato it will mature to its full colour off the plant so you could take a chance and pick one chilli and bring it indoors on a warm widowsill and it might turn red faster for you.

  5. Hi. Ive had my Kashmiri Chilli’s growing for some time now and the chilli’s have been growing for about a month or so, they are a good size about 12cm long and a thick base but they have not turned red at all yet they are still deep green. when should these start turning red? am i being impatient.

  6. WILL DO Mike – I have 9 plants in the polytunnel 3 each of 3 different strains seeds saved from market bought peppers so hoping one or all may be close if not actual kashmiri chillis.

  7. Hi Laura- Ive been trying to get hold of these chillis too. If you ever do find them please let me know, and i will do likewise, happy hunting, mike

  8. sounds great Leone – lets hope they turn out to be true Kashmiri if they are perhaps you could send me a few seeds :-)

  9. I saved some seeds from Waitrose Kashmiri chillies and have good results, the little plants and seedlings are coming on well. However the price for 20grams is very high!. I got into conversation with a chef who informed me to pay a visit to Southall to obtain these chillies from a store there. Great results! 200grams for £2.75. I live quite near Hounslow and tried every Asian shop and not one stocked them! I’m hoping they are actually from Kashmir as have read recently that this may not be the case. I have emailed the company about this and hoping they reply. I make a delicious Mangalorean Prawn curry with them.

  10. I set out 9 Kashmiri plants in the polyunnel yesturday – so hoping for some good results 3 of the markets saved seeds that I saved – 3 that christina saved and 3 plants from seeds I saved from the plants I grew last year but don’t know which plants they were because the wild boar had chucked the plants about and I lost the labels.

  11. Hi Laura-
    Sorry to hear about your disaster with the Kashmiri chillies….we had a disasterous summer in Pa, USA last year….it rained almost ever day and the temperatures didn’t get out of the 70’s°F. So needless to say fruit set was less than desirable….hopefully this summer will be better.
    Good luck and happy gardening 2010! =)

  12. Hi

    I received from my friend from India one week ago Kashmiri Mirch chili ! I have saw seeds at once ! Today my plants are 2 cm high !
    I am very happy from this variety however I have more than 20 other varieties.

    Marek_Poland

  13. Comments Made Previously
    1. anna mceachern wrote:
    I purchased some whole dried Kashmiri Chilli last week from an Indian Grocery shop in Prospect Road, Prospect, South Australia and they are magnificent but the seeds may be sterilized when they come into Australia.

    4/6/09 9:11:24 PM email
    2. Ian wrote:
    Hi, I have got some kashmiri chilli ‘s from waitrose in the uk under the name of “easy on the Kashmiri chilllis”.I have just planted and will let you know what happens,But i did contact the supplyers and they told me that they sourced from india supplyers so it might be correct.??

    7/23/09 6:02:00 AM email website
    5. John wrote:
    I have planted some seeds from some dried Kashmiri chillis I boought in Tooting. I am also fascinated by the color they impart to a dish. Going by the color aspect I would bet london to a brick that these are genuine. They too have a different taste to a regular dried red chilli . At the moment the chillis are green on the plant and I don’t think they willl really reach their full potential in London weather. Next year I will start them off earlier. I will keep you posted on how they do.Great site!!

    9/22/09 12:45:22 PM email
    6. Laura wrote:
    Great stuff John – you may still be able to get a harvest if you pot up the plants and bring them indoors. SO far I’ve found that many of the capsicum family including annum are actually perennial. If you keep them in a sunny spot in the house and (cut them back if they show signs of dying back) and keep them dryish they will spurt back into life in the spring.

    9/24/09 10:00:37 AM email website
    7. suzie wrote:
    Hi, i just sourced some chilli’s lablled kashmiri chilli’s. Im planning to deseed the dry chillies and germinated them, any advice on the best way to do this?

    Laura Says
    Susie the way I do it is to sow seed on the surface of moist sterlised seed compost cover with vermiculite or same seed compost cover with a plastic bag or pop into a propagator to keep moisture in and keep at about 20c and they should germinate in 7-14days. I have a heated propagator but you can get good results using an airing cupboard or putting plants on top of a fridge for a constant warmth. Put the plants in a light warm place as soon as they germinate. I start sowing Capsicums sometimes as early as November right through until mid March. Earlier the better in my opinion.


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