Birds eye chilli,
Kanthari mulaku are perennial crop in Kerala which can be cultivated or naturally germinated by bird dropping. It is an erect, branched and half-woody plant, growing to a height of 0.5 to 1meter. It is an introduced plant; Native Americans have used this plant as both food and medicine for at least 9,000 years.
Leaves are oblong-ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 3 to 10 centimeters long, and pointed at the tip, and 8 to 9 millimeters in diameter.
Flowers are solitary or several in each axil, stalked, pale green or yellowish-green and facing down.
Fruits are small, tapering capsules, often 2-3, at a node. The fruits of most varieties are white, dark green, pale green or purple getting red on ripening. They are with distinguishable flavour, Fruit length is about 2–3 cm and Seeds per fruit are 10–20 Nos.
Fruits and leaves of the plants are edible. Tribes of Wayanad districts use its leaves as vegetable.
Each 100 g edible portion of fruits contains:
Water 86.0 g
Protein 1.9 g
Fat 1.9 g
Carbohydrates 9.2 g
Iron 1.2 mg
Calcium 14.4 mg
Vitamin A 700-21600 IU
Vitamin C 242.0 mg
Energy Value 257.0 kJ
Birds eye chilis are seeds are dispersed by birds and naturally distributed by birds dropping.
It can be cultivated from seeds extracted from the red fruits, with very care; direct contact of fruit pulp with skin may cause burning sensation, which may last for few days. The seeds should be pre- treated with hot water (hot but not boiling) and followed by ash powder for improving germination.
It reduces Blood sugar.
It lowers cholesterol and works against arthritis and rheumatism.
Capsaicin has very powerful pain-relieving properties.
It increases appetite by stimulating the gut.
Various studies show that birds eye chilli has antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial activities.
It is also reported that it prevents blood clots, halts bleeding quickly, knocks out cold and flu miseries.
It also reduces risk of heart diseases and tuberculosis.
Khanthari mulaku may cause stomach irritation for the persons with ulcers or heart burn, Capsaicin can increase stomach acid, making certain drugs less effective.
Foot note: .
Chilis are used as relishes, pickled, used in curries, or made into a fine powder for using as spices. Chilis derive their pungency from the compound Capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-enamide).
Capsaicin is a substance characterized by burning taste. It is a tasteless, odourless white crystalline substance. Pungency levels vary with variety, by geographical region, and in maturity levels and it is usually represented in Scoville heat values. The Pungency levels of birds eye chilli fruits are around 100,000–225,000 scoville units.