Many people with benzoate intolerance, OFG or oral crohns can eat chilli peppers just fine, but some people cannot. They are firmly in the ‘annoying’ section of this diet, along with apples, oranges, honey, mustard and tomatoes, as things that some people can eat and others experience major flare-ups when they go near the offending items!
If you are one of the unlucky people who cannot eat them, here are a few suggestions for alternatives depending on exactly how chilli and it’s relatives are used in the particular dish you are making:
Instead of hot chilli and/or cayenne (for heat) – use ground black pepper. Chillies are from the Americas and prior to their introduction, Indian food was spiced with black pepper rather than chilli. Black pepper, although having a similar heat, is a completely different plant family to chillies and is normally safe for benzoate-intolerant people. Use at least twice the amount of black pepper to replace what your recipe recommends for either hot chilli or cayenne.
Instead of mild chilli & paprika combined (for warmth and sweetness) – use equal amounts of black pepper and ground ginger, at least the same quantity as your recipe recommends for chilli and paprika, maybe up to twice as much depending on taste. This will give a distinctive gingery taste, so is best used for curries and Asian dishes rather than Mexican food but it enables you to take advantage of the sharp, sweet heat of ginger as a useful alternative.
Instead of paprika by itself (for sweetness and smokiness) – use a drop of smoke flavouring (look at my barbeque sauce recipe for a link to a safe smoke flavour liquid), or caramelise some extra onions with oil, salt & pepper and brown sugar and add them to your dish, or use a teaspoon of black treacle per teaspoon or paprika.
Instead of mild chilli and/or paprika (for richness and depth) – use a safe yeast extract, ground cumin or corriander, fennel seeds. or, if you can tolerate it, mustard (either powder, seeds or paste).
Instead of any variety (for colour) – use a combination of carrot and beetroot, either grated raw, or roasted until soft and squidgy and then and pulped and added to your sauce, or otherwise any safe red or orange vegetable that you can tolerate – you may wish to research growing your own as there are often shades of vegetables which would be useful in a chilli free/tomato free kitchen which are not normally available in the shops.