Red Chili Powder: Types and Identify Its Difference

  • By: Niaz Bhati, category: General
  • Last updated on February 26, 2024

Red chilli powder is a pantry staple in Indian kitchens. It is one of the must-have ground spices used in various dishes. The spice does not need any introduction as it has a definite place in every kitchen worldwide. 

However, Indian red chilli powder differs in wide varieties out there. And if you want to know what that difference is, you have come to the right place. Here, you will learn what it is and how it differs from others.

What is Indian red chilli powder?

Indian red chilli powder, also called lal mirch in Hindi, is an Indian spice made from dried ground chilli peppers. India has a variety of red chilli peppers grown across the country. This includes milder peppers such as Kashmiri lal mirch and the world’s naturally grown hottest red chillies, Bhut Jolokia.

And so, the powder can be made of various peppers available in India. Indian chilli peppers are relatively small and spicy. They have significant heat and pack a major punch for taste. Indian red chilli powder is most commonly used in Indian and Asian cuisines. However, thanks to its versatility, it can be very well used in other cuisines.

Indian red chilli vs cayenne

Indian red chillies and cayenne pepper are both common spices used in cooking. Both have a fiery flavour that adds heat to your food. However, some key differences distinguish Indian red chilli powder from cayenne pepper powder.

It is made from dried ground red chillies. In contrast, Cayenne chilli powder is made from dried cayenne peppers, which have a sharper flavour than red chilli powder. On the other hand, Indian red chilli peppers are significantly hotter than cayenne peppers.

Depending on the variety, the Scoville Heat Unit of Indian red chilli peppers can range from 25,000 to 1,00,000. Cayenne pepper’s SHU can be anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000. This chilli powder variety is quite popular in western parts of the world.

Indian red chilli powder vs paprika

Indian red chilli powder and paprika look similar, that is, bright red powder. But both have different flavour profiles. It is made from red chilli peppers and has a strong and sharp flavour. On the other hand, the paprika powder is made from a variety of sweet peppers and has a milder taste.

It is significantly hotter than regular paprika or hot paprika, so it should be used wisely, in small amounts, to control the heat of your food. Paprika has milder flavour notes and is often used for flavour than heat. The SHU of paprika can be around 250 to 1000.

Indian red chilli powder vs chilli powder

Indian chilli powder has no additives. It is made of pure, dried red chillies. But if you’re in the USA or some American countries, chilli powder means something more than simple ground chilli peppers. Chilli powder is a blend of red chilli peppers and other ground spices like cumin, black peppers, oregano, and salt.

Chilli powder may also contain more or fewer spices, depending on the brand and type of seasoning you choose. So going through a list of ingredients before buying chilli powder from any supermarket is advisable. There are several varieties of chilli powder, all of which derive from capsicum annum. The most popular ones are chipotle chilli powder and ancho chilli powder.

How to use Indian red chilli powder?

Indian red chilli powder is a staple spice in all savoury and spicy dishes. The spice is versatile and can go with everything. Some of the recipes that require Indian red chilli powder are:

Curries, vegetables, lentils, meat dishes, fish, and other seafood.
Soups, stews, chaats, stir-fries, sauces, chutneys, and dips.
Condiments and spice mix like garam masala, biryani masala, etc.

Moreover, different varieties are used for different recipes and occasions. For example, Kashmiri red chilli powder is used more for its colour than its heat or taste because Kashmiri peppers are milder and do not have enough heat.

Where to buy and store red chilli powder

Indian red chilli powder is readily available in Indian cuisine speciality stores or spice stores. You will find a variety of red chilli powders there, from milder types like Kashmiri or hotter variants like Teja or Tikhalal. If you’re gonna use it in your everyday dishes, you may want to buy it in bulk from any wholesale Indian spice suppliers. Bulk buying of spices often requires careful storing to not let the spice go stale quickly. If you purchase bulk Indian red chilli powder, store it in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture.


Indian red chilli powder is a prominent spice not just in Indian cuisines but in many cuisines worldwide. It has a sharp and hot taste that can fill any bland dish with a unique flavour. There are various chilli powders worldwide, and all of them have the same ingredient - ground chilli peppers. However, the Indian version differs from other chilli powder varieties such as cayenne, paprika, and chilli powder popular in American cuisine.

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