Guntur Sannam Chile
Guntur Sannam Chiles
Guntur Sannam Chiles, Capsicum annuum, are slender, bright red chiles from the Andhra Pradesh state of southeastern India. They are also known as Sannam S-4, S-4, or Sannam Chile.
There are approximately 30 Guntur Sannam Chiles per ounce.
What is Guntur Sannam Chile
The Guntur Sannam Chile is a slender, spicy chile from India. It usually grows between 2-3 inches long, and is about 1/2 inch wide at the shoulders—its widest point—before it tapers down to a point at the end. The skin of a Guntur Sannam Chile is thin but leathery, with a touch of chewiness. This pepper turns a vibrant shade of deep scarlet when it’s fully ripe and ready to eat.
Guntur Sannam Chiles are hot, measuring between 25,000-35,000 units on the Scoville Heat Scale. This approaches the heat level of Cayenne Chile Powder, though Cayenne peppers are prized mainly for their heat, while Guntur Sannam peppers contribute flavor to a dish as well as sizzling spice.
The Indian state Andhra Pradesh is located on the subcontinent’s east coast, located along the Bay of Bengal, just north of island-nation of Sri Lanka. The land is rich thanks to four major rivers that crisscross this state, leaving farmers with fertile, black soil that nourishes an enormous amount of produce in the steamy, subtropical heat1. Chiles didn’t come to India until the arrival of Vasco da Gama in the 16th century, who was the first to successfully sail around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope from western Europe. He established a Portuguese trading colony in the Indian state of Goa, on India’s west coast; within 30 years of his landing, chile peppers had been adopted into a large portion of Indian Cuisine2.
India is now the largest producer, exporter, and consumer of chile peppers in the world, and the Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh is responsible for producing upwards to 30% of India’s total chiles3. The Guntur Sannam is one of these chiles. It was so named to reflect its origins—Guntur—and its shape. Sannam is taken from the word sannani which, in the local language Telugu, means “thin”.
Considered to be a land-race chile that’s endemic to the region4, Guntur Sannam chiles are much beloved by Indian cooks around that country. This type of chile was granted geographical indication status in 20105, which means that the qualities of terroir are reflected in this chile pepper. In order for a pepper to be called “Guntur Sannam”, it must be from the regions specified in the intellectual property certification that’s registered with the government, and anything else is an impostor.
Farming is big business in the Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh, particularly for small farmers, who only need about 10 acres of land to establish a commercial farm. Chile peppers are continually undergoing hybridization there, either by intention or by the peppers’ inherent ability to cross-pollinate with nearby species. There are so many pepper varietals that they are often given basic alphanumeric names rather than something more lyrical, which is why Guntur Sannam Chiles are also referred to as S-4 peppers.
Like all chile peppers, Guntur Sannam thrive when they grow in sunny, humid environments, though they do prefer dryer weather in order to reach full maturity. They can be planted at altitudes that approach 7,000 feet (2,100 meters), and prefer soil that is neutral or mildly acidic, with a pH of 6 or 7. That soil should be sandy or loamy soil and drains well. Plants should be placed 10-12 inches apart, and the initial planting occurs in May.
These plants grow between 3.5-4 feet tall. They can be prolific, sending off several rounds of green fruit until the rainy season ends. The green fruits are picked as they grow, and each plucking—including the final one—produces up to 2 quintal (up to 225 pounds) of peppers per acre. The dry season begins in December and once the rains stop, the fruits are allowed to remain on the plant until they reach their full maturity. Mature peppers are 3-4 inches long, about 1/2 inch wide at the shoulders, and descend into a graceful point. They go from new-growth green to vibrant, rich scarlet. The final harvesting season lasts until March, with some stragglers extending their growing season to May, if the weather permits. By May, new plants are being germinated so they can go into the ground before the rainy season starts again, in June.
Where Are Our Guntur Sannam Chiles From
What Does Guntur Sannam Chile Taste Like
Guntur Sannam is a complex chile. It is a little bit leathery and has a toothsome chew. The pepper has a deep flavor, opening with a cherry-like fruitiness that mellows into a vegetal flavor that’s reminiscent of mild smoke and tobacco. The heat is bright and powerful, but plays with the flavor of the pepper instead of overwhelming it. It fades into a pleasant, lingering burn.
How Do I Use Guntur Sannam Chile
Use Guntur Sannam Chiles anywhere you would want to add the sting of heat and a burst of flavor. It would be excellent in fish curries, so try it in this traditional Coconut Fish Curry, and if you don’t have an Instant Pot just cook it in a pot on your stove top. When you make a batch of Avakaya, the centuries-old mango pickle recipe that also originated in Andhra Pradesh, make sure to include some Guntur Sannam Chiles that have been toasted and ground. They would add a terrific kick to Sauteed Beef with Spinach Curry Sauce. Grind finely and add to the fruity, sweet spice mix for Tandoori Chicken or swap out regular chile flakes for Guntur Sannam Chiles when you make a batch of Aloo Paratha. Try this spice in foods that aren’t necessarily Indian, too. It would be a delicious addition to Jackfruit Tacos, or a spiky boost to the chile flavor present in Marinated Smoky Feta.
6 dried Guntur Sannam Chiles equals roughly one ground Tablespoon.
What Can I Substitute for Guntur Sannam Chile
Guntur Sannam Chile have a comparable heat to Cayenne Pepper, though Cayenne doesn’t have the same bold, smoky fruit flavor. Guajillo Peppers have a bold fruit flavor, but are significantly less spicy. If you needed to substitute for Guntur Sannam, try a mix of 2/3 Cayenne with 1/3 Guajillo.
|Ingredients||Guntur Sannam Chile|
|Also Called||Sannam S-4, S-4, or Sannam Chile|
|Recommended Uses||Use in curries, meat rubs, stews, marinades|
|Flavor Profile||Fruity and cherry-like with tobacco undertones and a spicy kick|
|Scoville Heat Units||25,000-35,000 SHU|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||2-3 Years|
|Country of Origin||India|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Non-GMO|
Hungry for more information?
1 Reshii, M. H. (2017). The flavour of spice: Journeys, recipes, stories. Hachette India.
2 Anderson, H. A. (2016). Chillies: A global history. Reaktion Books Ltd.
3 Mehta, I. (2017). Chillies - The Prime Spice - A History. Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, 22(7), 32–36. Retrieved 12/13/2021 from https://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol.%2022%20Issue7/Version-9/D2207093236.pdf.
4 Parthasarathy, V. A. (Ed.). (2008). Organic spices. New India Publishing Agency.
5 Intellectual Property India. (2008, October 29). Geographical Indications - Guntur Sannam . Geographical Indications Registry. Retrieved December 14, 2021, from https://search.ipindia.gov.in/GIRPublic/Application/Details/143.
Serving Size1 chile (1 gram)
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*