The Bhut Jolokia

Farmer Digonta Saikia holds a bhut jolokia

The farmer, a quiet man with an easy smile, has spent a lifetime eating a chilli with a strange name and vicious bite. His mother stirred them into sauces. His wife puts them out for dinner - raw, blood-red morsels of pain to be nibbled, carefully - with whatever she is serving. In the hills of north-eastern India (Assam), it is called the bhut jolokia, or ghost chilli. Anyone who tries it, they say, could end up an apparition.

"It is so hot you can't even imagine," says Digonta Saikia, working in his fields in the midday sun. "When you eat it, it's like dying." Outsiders, he insists, should not even try it. "If you eat one," he tells a visitor, "you will not be able to leave this place."

For this remote region, facing bloody insurgencies, widespread poverty and with its major industry, tea farming, in deep decline, hope has come in the form of the thumb-sized chilli with frightening potency. Guinness World Records rated it the spiciest in the world prior to 2011. If you think you've had a hotter chilli, you are probably wrong. The smallest morsels of a bhut jolokia can flavour a sauce so intensely it is barely edible. Eating a raw sliver causes watering eyes and a runny nose. An entire chilli is a savage assault on the senses. For generations, though, the bhut jolokia has been loved in India's north-east, eaten as a spice, a cure for stomach troubles and, seemingly paradoxically, a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

 Now, with scientific proof that the chilli has more than 1 million Scoville units - the scientific measurement of a chilli's spiciness - that thrust the bhut jolokia into the record books, north-east India is taking its chilli to the world. Exporters are courting the international community of rabid chilli-lovers, a group that has traded stories for years about a mysterious, powerful Indian chilli. Farmers, too, are planting new fields of bhut jolokias, and government officials are talking about development programs.

Chances are no one will get rich. In a region where good news is a rarity, however, the world record status has meant a lot of pride and a little more business. "It has got tremendous potential," says Leena Saikia, managing director of Frontal AgriTech, a food business in the north-eastern state of Assam that has been in the forefront of exports.

The colour change of the  bhut jolokia during ripening

The bhut jolokia cut open.
Note the three-chamber contruction. Both the mesocarp and the divider walls are rather thin. This eases drying the pepper.              

The Bhut Jolokia 
is a capsicum chinense cultivar and has measured a maximum of 1,001,300 SHU's on the Scoville Scale

Article courtesy of Tim Sullivan (The Age)

The Trinidad Scorpion

The Trinidad (Moruga) Scorpion was classified as the hottest pepper in the World in 2011. Trinidad is a large Island in the Caribbean northeast of Venezuela. The people of Trinidad love cooking with hot chilis. The Trinidad Scorpion though is not usually found in markets. In fact it is so hot many locals never use it for cooking. It's primary use is for military grade mace. It is also used in marine paint to keep barnacles from growing on the bottoms of boats. But the Trinidad Scorpion is still a favorite of chili heads around the world. Not just because it has more heat than a Bhut Jolokia, but it also has a great flavour as well. Just keep in mind you only need a small amount in whatever you cook.

The Trinidad (Moruga) Scorpion is a capsicum chinense cultivar and has measured a maximum of 1,463,700 SHU's on the Scoville Scale

The Carolina Reaper

The Carolina Reaper is a hybrid cultivar bred by Ed Currie who runs PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The Reaper was rated as the world's hottest chili pepper by Guinness World Records according to 2012 tests.

This bumpy, oily, fire-engine red fruit with a punch of heat nearly as potent as most pepper sprays used by police is hot enough to leave even the most seasoned spicy food aficionado crimson-faced, flushed with sweat, trying not to lose his lunch.

The Carolina Reaper is a capsicum chinense cultivar and has measured an average of 1,569,300 SHU's on the Scoville Scale


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