The Byadagi Chilli that is mainly grown in the districts of Dharwad, Haveri and Gadag in the state of Karnataka is famous for its essentially sweet and not spicy nature and its importance in the oleoresin industry. Byadagi chillies are fully wrinkled, long in size and have the highest level of dark red in the coloured chilli variety grown in India.
The quality of chilli varieties is measured in terms of the extractable red colour pigment – red hue is measured in ASTA colour units. Byadagi chilli has an ASTA colour value of 156.9 which is quite high. The high ASTA colour unit is a significant indicator of the quality of the chilli and hence, the high price accorded to it.
The Byadagi chilli business has the second largest turnover of all chilli varieties in India. There are two types of Byadagi chillies namely dabbi and kaddi. Byadagi dabbi are small and plump and extremely popular for its deep red colour, flavour and taste. Though it has more seeds, it is less spicy compared to the kaddi variety and well-suited for masala preparations of South India and for the extraction of oleoresin. The kaddi type is gnarled, thin, long and has fewer seeds. It is this uniqueness that helped Byadagi Chilli get the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2011.
The Byadagi market yard is the second largest red chilli market in the country catering to farmers from Dharwad, Haveri and Gadag districts in Karnataka and Kurnool district from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Besides the kaddi and dabbi chillies, Devanur Deluxe considered to be a hybrid of the traditional Byadagi chilli is in great demand in the markets for it attractive shiny deep red colour, big size and wrinkled surface.
An interesting aspect of oleoresin is that it is essentially an oil that is extracted from these chillies to be used in the preparation of nail polish and lipsticks, and in the food, confectionery and beverage industry. It is believed that about 50 litres of oleoresin can be extracted from 1 metric tonne of dried Byadagi chillies. Many companies have been set up in and around Byadagi to take up the task of extraction of oleoresin. This oleoresin is sent to Kerala where it is further refined before being exported to USA, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Europe. Some of the units set up for extraction in Byadagi are into grinding these chillies into powder and selling them to masala manufacturers.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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