Bhut Jolokia the Hottest Chili in the World

According to R.B Srivastava, director of Defense Research Lab of India, the thumb-sized bhut jolokia chilies or sometimes referred to as ghost peppers are strong enough to be used in pepper sprays. It is even used for stopping riots in Israel and the US.

It is grown and cultivated in the northeast part of India. It got recognition after receiving the “world’s hottest” tag from Guinness Book of World Records. Ananta Saikia, lone exporter of this pepper opines that workers are required to wear face masks, safety glasses, protective outfits and helmets while packing it. He exports the pepper to Germany, US and England and anticipates the yearly sales to increase 500% this year.

It is considered a “macho thing” to show off the capacity to handle spicy sauces. So Dave Hirschkop, producer of Insanity sauce added bhut jolokia in his Insanity Private Reserve hot sauce. There are a wide variety of popular ghost pepper hot sauces on the market today. After its discovery of the ghost pepper, India is on the trip list of die-hard chili fans like Terry and Marty Ward, who travel to various countries in search of chilies.

Hot chilies are popular since they possess an unpredicted consequence, according to some food chemists. When the heat ingredient “capsaicin” touches the nerve endings of mouth and tongue, pain representatives known as neurotransmitters reach the brain in alarm. The brain, wrongly interpreting the situation, responds by releasing the waterworks to calm the heat. The mouth secrets saliva in excess, nose runs and the body sweats.

The bhut jolokia is a favorite with the locals in Assam. Indrajit Karayan Dev, a filmmaker, possesses two plants and has consumed them continuously for 25 years. A New Delhi-based cookbook author, Hoihnu Hauzel keeps stocks of chilies when someone sends them to her from Manipur.

Bhut jolokia imparts a different flavor too. It smells intensely like a vegetable, when raw. It also adds a perfume-like sweetness to pork curry. Bhut jolokia turns red as it ripens like jalapeño peppers.

Though it has been a well-known to the locals for centuries, it was non-existent to the world. The credit goes to scientist R.K.R. Singh of Defense Research Laboratory who ate bhut jolokia and got inquisitive about its heat intensity. He did a lab experiment and the outcome was presented to a scientific publication.

The news reached Paul Bosland, head of Chile Pepper Institute. He cultivated bhut jolokia from its seed in the desert-dry temperatures of southern New Mexico. He found it to be very hot. A procedure known as high performance liquid chromatography has replaced a team of tasters to rate chilies. It measured 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units.

The Saikias expects to export 25 tons of dried chilies by the end of financial year. They knew about the uniqueness of this pepper, so started their business in 2004.

Though the market demand for bhut jolokia is on the rise, some still refrain from it. Mr. Srivastava says that he is from New Delhi and it is too hot for him.

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