"Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from." - Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
The chilies (fresh & dried both) are very important part of the Indian cuisine. I can't imagine the Indian cuisine without chilies (& spices of course!). My grandmothers knew many more chilies and they used to choose them based on tastes, spice/heat levels , colors and their own experiences. Some of the dry chilies that I have heard from my grandmothers are Sankeswari, byadgi, kashmiri, Madras, reshampatti. From Gujarati side of my family, I learned about Boriya chilies. Few months back, I read about Bhoot Jhalokia - the newly crowned hottest chili in the world. After coming to America, I got familiar with jalepenos, serranos, thai bird chilies, poblano, Anaheim, chipotle & there are many more Mexican dry chilies varieties that I see regularly in the supermarket but have never used them yet.
The four regulars in my kitchen pantry are Byadgi, Kashmiri, Boriya and the one available in Indian stores without any name - I call it regular. I discovered byadgi & boriya at my local Indian stores, just recently. Before that I used to use this generic "regular" one which used to be quite unpredictable as far as the color, taste or heat level is concerned. I love Kashmiri chilies very much for the vibrant red color & mildly delicate flavor, it gives to the dishes. But I have never seen it at the local Indian stores.
Whenever I use these chilies, I carefully take out the seeds. I have made the containers with each name written. I dry the seeds of the respective chilies in the sun. and store them making sure they do not come in contact with any moisture. As spring has arrived, I have planted my precious seeds. This is the first time, I have planted Boriya & Byadgi. Byadgi seeds have sprouted too.
The picture below is from the "regular" chili that I had planted last year. I was too reluctant to harvest them as they looked so beautiful on the plant itself. I had kept them in the sunny window, and very soon, the beautiful green chili turned into dry red ones. I got my very own dry chilies at home. (Please note that mostly I do the container gardening, so I can take the containers inside during the harsh winter. So my harvest is really modest, but it gives me tremendous joy, nonetheless!:-)