Deggi mirch, a distinctive Indian spice made from a blend of colorful red capsicums and Kashmiri red chilies, adds a mild heat and a deep red-orange color to soups, tandoori chicken and other traditional dishes. You can find it at Indian grocery stores, where it may be sold as deggi mirch, degi mirch, deghi mirch, Kashmiri mirch or Kashmiri chili powder.
Deggi mirch is used in Indian cuisine as both a spice and to add color. It northern India, it is liberally added to chicken and vegetable curries and dals as well as naan and paratha breads. Deggi mirch is often used in kebabs and adds color and flavor to rice, dals, southern Indian sambars, soups and stews. It is often combined with garam masala spice mixes to flavor thick paya soups and biryanis.
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Deggi mirch is full-flavored but relatively mild in heat. It is slightly hotter than paprika but is used more to add color than heat to dishes. Paprika measures about 500 Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale, while deggi mirch is around 1,500 to 2,000 Scoville heat units. Cayenne chili pepper can measure 50,000 Scoville heat units. When dry, deggi mirch can taste similar to paprika, but when it is fried in oil, the spice blooms to give more heat and adds a different flavor to the dish.
How to Select
You will likely only find powdered deggi mirch, unless you have an extremely well-stocked Indian grocery. When selecting whole deggi mirch, make sure it is fresh and free of pests. You can dry it at home using traditional sun-drying methods or you can use dehydrator. After drying you can grind it in a mixer. Powdered deggi mirch is sold under many brands and should be in well-sealed packaging.
Storage and Substitutes
Store whole or ground dried deggi mirch in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Over time the spice will lose both its flavor and heat, so buy it in small quantities and use it quickly. If you're in the middle of a recipe and find you've run out of deggi mirch, use paprika or smoked paprika, in equal quantities.