The Byadgi Chilli that is mainly grown in regions of Bellary, Haveri, Shimoga and Chitradurga in the state of Karnataka is famous for its essentially sweet and not spicy nature and its importance in the oleoresin industry. Byadgi 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 Byadgi chilli business has the second largest turnover of all chilli varieties in India. There are two types of Byadgi chillies namely dabbi and kaddi. Byadgi 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 Byadgi Chilli of Karnataka get the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2011.
An interesting aspect of this oleoresin is that it is essentially an oil that is extracted from these chilies to be used in the preparation of nail polish and lipsticks, food, confectionery and beverage industry. It is believed that about 50 litres of oleoresin can be extracted from about 1 ton of Byadgi chillies. Many companies have been set up in and around Byadgi 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 Byadgi are into grinding these chillies into powder and selling them to masala manufacturers.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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