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Bhut Jolokia


(Capsicum chinense)

Origin : India

Heat Rating : EXTREME ++++

Scoville Heat Rating : 800000-1000000+

Bhut Jolokia is extensively cultivated in north eastern region of India especially in the states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur.

It is also known by other names like Ghost chilli, King Cobra Chilli, Bhut Jolokia, BorbihJolokia, Naga Jolokia, Nagahari, Naga Morich, Raja Mirchi etc. It has a long standing association with ethno‚Äźagricultural activities of people of this region. Vedic and several other ancient texts also describe its use in traditional medicine for curing many ailments. The local inhabitants commonly use this chili for making pickles and adding hot flavour to food. Disagreement has arisen on whether it is a Capsicum Frutescens or a Capsicum Chinense but recent DNA tests have found that it is an interspecies hybrid, mostly C. Chinense with some C. Frutescens genes.

Scoville Rating and Recent News

In 2000, scientists at India's Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a rating of 855,000 units on the Scoville scale and in 2004 an Indian company obtained a rating of 1,041,427 units through HPLC analysis. This makes it almost twice as hot as the Red Savina pepper, Guinness World Record holder at that time. For comparison, Tabasco red pepper sauce rates at 2,500-5,000, and pure Capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the pungency of pepper plants) rates at 15,000,000-16,000,000 Scoville units.

In 2005, at New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute near Las Cruces, New Mexico, regents Professor Paul Bosland found Bhut Jolokia grown from seed in southern New Mexico to have a Scoville rating of 1,001,304 SHU by HPLC. In February 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia (Prof. Bosland's preferred name for the pepper) as the world's hottest chili pepper.

The effect of climate on the Scoville rating of Bhut Jolokia peppers is dramatic. A 2005 Indian study that compared the percentage availability of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin in Bhut Jolokia peppers grown in both Tezpur (Assam) and Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) showed that the heat of the pepper is decreased by over 50% in Gwalior's more arid climate (similar temperatures but less humid, much lower rainfall). Ripe peppers measure 60 to 85 mm (2.4 to 3.3 in) long and 25 to 30 mm (1.0 to 1.2 in) wide with an orange or red color. They are similar in appearance to the habanero pepper, but have a rougher, dented skin , a main characteristic of the Bhut Jolokia.

The pepper is used as a spice in food or eaten alone. One seed from a Bhut Jolokia can produce sustained intense pain sensations in the mouth for up to 30 minutes before subsiding. Extreme care should be taken when ingesting the pepper and its seeds, so as to not get it in the eyes. It is used as a cure for stomach ailments. It is also used as a remedy to summer heat, presumably by inducing perspiration. In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences or used in smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance.

In 2009, scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the chilies in hand grenades, as a less lethal way to control rioters!

It is ferociously hot and should be handled with extreme caution.

They are quite temperamental to grow - especially in our climate!