Cayenne’s fiery red color is matched by its fruity heat. When fresh, cayenne peppers have a shiny shell and an elongated, fingerlike shape. Their medium intensity really shines through when dried and ground, which is why they are one of the most popular, most-planted hot peppers in the world. Sometimes referred to as a bird chile, cayenne is found in cuisines around the world, from Mexico to India and beyond. A little goes a long way—just a pinch in a curry or salsa will add a significant bit of heat.
In 2009, Meherwan Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant – Chai Pani, a unique Indian street food joint in downtown Asheville. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. Since then, the self-taught chef has opened four restaurants, one bar, and now, Spicewalla. With five James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he’s finally confident this might just be working out. His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Saveur, USA Today, and Bon Appétit, among others.