Aleppo Chile

Aleppo chile powder

Aleppo chile powder

The Basics

Aleppo chile comes from its namesake town: Aleppo which is located in Northern Syria.  Aleppo is considered the culinary capital of the Eastern Mediterranean which also includes Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey. Aleppo chile complements Eastern Mediterranean flavor palate such as eggplant, lamb and legumes. And can be used in place of crushed red peppers or paprika.

The Form

Like most chiles, Aleppo chile comes from the dried version of the Aleppo pepper. It can be either coursely-ground in flakes or powdered.

The Flavor

The Aleppo is described has having a mild level of heat layered with hints of smokiness that lingers near the back of the mouth in a pleasant way. The taste is slightly fruity with cumin-like undertones and a hint of raisin.

Try it sprinkled on pizza, or sauted into bitter greens like collard greens. It is also a delicious addition to soup bases like pumpkin and legumes.

The Story

The interest behind Aleppo chile resides not so much in the spice itself as its alluring namesake. Aleppo claims title to one of the oldest existing cities in the world. As such its history, culture and monuments are a culmination of layers of history and crossroads of civilizations. To have a spice with equally interesting layers of flavor seems like a worthy representative. If you want to read more about Aleppo, Syria: go here.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleppo_pepper
http://www.cuisinenet.com/glossary/emed.html

Health Benefits

If you love peppers for their heat, you’ll be interested in this. All chile peppers (including Aleppo chile) contain a substance called capsaicin. The more capsaicin the hotter the chili. This substance has very real health benefits. It’s an inhibitor of something called Substance P,  which is triggers the inflammatory process. The simple explanation works something like this: capsaicin inhibits Substance P from causing inflammation…at least it slows it down. That means people who suffer from inflammation pain (like arthritis) will find relief with capsaicin.

Eating pepper or chile powder may also have cardiovascular benefits by protecting the fats in your blood from free-radicals. Chile peppers also give your immunity system a boost with their concentrated levels of beta-carotene and Vitamin A.

But watch out! The very substances that give chile peppers their health benefits can cause a lot of discomfort on your skin. Wash your hands after handling all chile peppers and chile pepper powder. And definitely don’t touch your face or eyes while handling this spice. It hurts!

Source: World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com

Try It!

This recipe came from Chowhound:

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 5 medium Anaheim chiles, coarsely chopped
  • 5 medium poblanos, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups medium-dice russet potatoes
  • 15 medium tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, toss with flour, shake off excess, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the chicken and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  2. In the same frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add mixture to the pot containing the chicken. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same frying pan over medium-high heat. Add Anaheim chiles and poblanos and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to the pot containing the chicken.
  3. Add chicken broth, potatoes, tomatillos, oregano, Aleppo pepper, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon stick to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and potatoes are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Stir cilantro into mixture. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
Source:
http://www.chow.com/recipes/10680

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