The chili pepper (also chile pepper or chilli pepper) is part of the capsicum family. Chillies come in a lot of different varieties and colours (from green through to yellow, orange and red) and are one of the most popular spices in the world.
Originally from South America, they are thought to have spread through Asia and the rest of the world with the Portugese traders in the 16th century.
Chillies can be used fresh, dried or powdered, and the level of heat varies from type to type, from sweet and mellow to blisteringly hot. As a general rule, the smaller the chilli, the hotter the taste. Green chillies are also generally sweeter than red ones.
The substance that generates the heat is called capsaicin, which is found mainly in the pith and, to a lesser extent, the seeds.
Chilis are also a member of the nightshade family, so people with nightshade sensitivities should be cautious with Chilis.