The strands of dried decorative chillies you may see in shops or kitchens are often of the arbol variety. These long, curved chillies mature from green to fiery red, uniquely retaining their bright scarlet upon drying. With intense heat and a subtle smoky flavour, these chillies are popular in western Mexican and Tex Mex cooking. Fry or soak before use for a deeper intensity. Heat level: 8-9/10
Also known as: Bird's beak chilli, Chile de árbol, Rat's tail chilli, Tree chilli
To make chilli powder, dry roast whole chillies in a hot pan until fragrant and grind. To make a paste, roast, then rehydrate the chillies in hot water for 20 min and blitz with oil and vinegar. The sauces and pastes which accompany Mexican dishes often consist of a good variety of chillies, so mix and match to your taste and heat preference.