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Last Update 08/29/12
The "World's Hottest Chili Pepper"

 Bhut Jolokia, Bih Jolokia, Naga Jolokia, Naga Morich, Raja Mirchi
 -- Capsicum chinense/Capsicum frutescens hybrid

aka "The Ghost Chili" or "Ghost Pepper"

Habanero chili on left, Ghost chili on right.

Habanero chili on left, Ghost chili on right.

You will sweat, your knees will go weak and your ears will ring! Wow! Is this little pepper HOT!

 

According to National Geographic "A study by the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute had previously revealed that the bhut jolokia, also known as the 'ghost chili,' has more than a million Scoville heat units (SHU)—the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. The average jalapeno measures at about 10,000 SHU's."

Identification

Bhut jolokia originated in northeastern India and is grown in Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur -- India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Ripe Ghost chili peppers are long and tapered about 2 to 3" long and 1" wide with orange-red color. They are similar in appearance to the Habanero peppers, but have slightly wrinkled skin. The plant itself does not look much different from any other hot pepper variety.

Growing the Bhut jolokia

Ghost pepper is pretty easy to grow in South Florida. In its native India it enjoys the heat and humidity so it is not too difficult to make it happy growing in Florida. Elsewhere it might do best in greenhouse conditions. Dry conditions seem to decrease the production of capsaicin (the ingredient that causes the hot-burning sensation) in the fruit.

Live plants are difficult to find so most Bhut jolokia is grown from seed. In the United States fresh seeds may be ordered from the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute. Seeds usually sprout about 10 days after planting in sandy well drained soil bolstered with well composted manure or organic potting soil.

Give Bhut jolokia plenty of room to grow, especially if you plant it in the ground. These chili peppers can grow to 5' high by 5' wide in ideal conditions. Ghost chili may be grown in pots, but this limits the size to which the plant can ultimately grow.

Fertilize regularly with a fish-based fertilizer such as Country Select Mega Green followed by Country Select Mega Bloom (hydrolyzed organic fish fertilizer made in the USA from organic catfish protein). Keep the plants well watered and grow in full sun.

 

Uses

The pepper is used as a spice in food or eaten alone. Bhut jolokia has a fruity pepper smell and taste with a persistent smell of capsaicin. One seed from a Bhut Jolokia can sustain intense pain sensations in the mouth for up to 30 minutes before subsiding. Most of the heat of these peppers is concentrated in the fleshy part of the fruit around the seeds and up around the stem. They can be used fresh, dried or in powdered form to make very spicy cuisines.

CAUTION!

Extreme care should be taken when ingesting the pepper and its seeds. Take small nibbles first to judge your particular tolerance to the pepper's heat. These little devils are called "Ghost Chili" or "Ghost Pepper" because if you were to pop a whole one in your mouth and eat it, you could feel like a ghost or wish you were dead. Use caution when handling them (gloves are highly recommended) especially when chopping or cutting the fruit since the oleoresin of the chilies will stick well to your hands. Rubbing your eyes or nose after handling the peppers may transfer the oleoresin to sensitive body parts and open up a new world of long lasting burning sensations and pain in those areas. No fooling, these little beauties are beastly HOT!

Based on personal experience, after a slight nibble of the fruit you can experience intense heat sensations in your mouth almost instantly. Swallow the piece and you will feel the heat go down your esophagus and into you stomach where the burning sensation may continue for up to 20 minutes. About an hour and a half later it is possible to experience the pepper's laxative effects, although major burning down in the nether regions does not seem to be overly severe or long lasting (however that may vary with the amount of Ghost chili eaten). Perspiration caused by the peppers may last up to two hours, especially on the scalp. If you are a dedicated chili fanatic you will love the intense rush these little monsters can deliver!

In India Bhut jolokia is used as a cure for stomach ailments, a remedy to summer heat (as it induces heavy perspiration) and is a quick acting laxative. In northeastern India the peppers are smeared on fences or used in smoke bombs to keep wild elephants at a distance. The Indian Army is considering putting them in grenades for none lethal crowd control.

Sources: NMSU Chile Pepper Institute, Think you can handle spicy? Try ‘ghost chili’, National Geographic

 

 

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