Bhut Jolokia chili pepper
|Bhut Jolokia chili|
|Fresh Bhut Jolokia peppers|
|Species:||C. chinense, C. frutescens|
|Subspecies:||C. c. cultivar Bhut Jolokia|
|Capsicum chinense 'Bhut Jolokia'|
The Bhut Jolokia (Assamese: ভূত জলকীয়া bhut jôlôkia; Bangla: নাগা মরিচ naga morich), as it is commonly known—also known variously by other names (see etymology section below) in its native region, sometimes Naga Jolokia—is a chili pepper formerly recognized byGuinness World Records as the hottest pepper in the world. The pepper is typically called theghost chili or ghost pepper by U.S. media.
The Bhut Jolokia is an interspecific hybrid from the Assam region of northeastern India and parts of neighbouring Bangladesh. It grows in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland andManipur, and the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. It can also be found in rural Sri Lanka where it is known as Nai Mirris (cobra chili). There was initially some confusion and disagreement about whether the Bhut was a Capsicum frutescens or a Capsicum chinense pepper, butDNA tests showed it to be an interspecies hybrid, mostly C. chinense with some C. frutescens genes.
In 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia as the world's hottest chili pepper, 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. On December 3, 2010, the Bhut Jolokia was replaced as the hottest known chili pepper by the Naga Viper pepper, which has an average peak Scoville rating more than 300,000 points higher than an average Bhut Jolokia - but still not higher than the hottest ever recorded Dorset Naga. In February 2011, Guinness World Records awarded the title of "World's Hottest Chilli" to the Infinity chilli grown inGrantham, England. This chilli rates at 1,067,286 units on the Scoville scale. Later the same month, on February 25, 2011, the title returned to the Naga Viper pepper with a rating of 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The current "world's hottest" is the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, officially tested at 1,463,700 SHU. These figures are highly controversial among the pepper growing community and tests with more rigorous scientific standards are yet to be conducted on the many various peppers vying for "world's hottest" status.
The pepper is called different names in different regions. An article in the Asian Age newspaper stated that experts in Assam are worried about a distortion of the colloquial nomenclature of "Bhot" to"bhut", saying that this word was misinterpreted by the (Western) media to mean "ghost". The article stated that people living north of the Brahmaputra River call the pepper "Bhot jolokia", "Bhot" meaning "of Bhotiya origin", or something that has come from the hills of adjoining Bhutan; on the southern bank of the river Brahmaputra, this chili becomes Naga jolokia, believed to have originated from the hills of Nagaland. An alternative source for Naga jolokia is that the name originates from the ferocious Naga warriors who once inhabited Nagaland. Further complicating matters, a 2009 paper, published in the Asian Agri-History journal, coined the English term "Naga king chili" and stated that the most common Indian (Assamese) usage is bhoot jolokia, which refers to the chili's large pod size, and gives the alternate common name as bih jolokia (bih means "poison" in Assamese, denoting the plant's heat). The assertion that bhut(bhoot) means "ghost" is claimed by researchers from the New Mexico State University, but as in the article from the Asian Age, denied by Indian researchers from Nagaland University. The Assamese word "jolokia" simply means the Capsicum pepper. Other usages on the subcontinent are saga jolokia, Indian mystery chili, and Indian rough chili (after the chili's rough skin). It has also been called theTezpur chili after the Assamese city of Tezpur. In Manipur, the chili is called umorok, or oo-morok (oo = "tree", morok = "chili").
|Heat||Maximum (SHU: 1,041,427)|
In 2000, India's Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a rating of 855,000 heat units (SHU) on the Scoville scale, and in 2004 a rating of 1,041,427 units was made using HPLCanalysis. For comparison, Tabasco red pepper sauce rates at 2,500–5,000, and purecapsaicin (the chemical responsible for the pungency of pepper plants) rates at 15,000,000–16,000,000 SHU.
In 2005, at New Mexico State University Chili 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.
The effect of climate on the Scoville rating of Bhut Jolokia peppers is dramatic. A 2005 study comparing percentage availability of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin in Bhut Jolokia peppers grown in Tezpur (Assam) and Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), India showed that the heat of the pepper is decreased by over 50% in Gwalior's more arid climate. Elsewhere in India, scientists at Manipur University measured Bhut Jolokia's average Scoville rating by HPLC at only 329,100 SHU.
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 a red, yellow, orange or chocolate color. The unselected strain of Bhut Jolokia from India is an extremely variable plant, with a wide range in fruit sizes and amount of fruit production per plant, and offers a huge potential for developing much better strains through selection in the future. Bhut Jolokia pods are unique among peppers, with their characteristic shape, and very thin skin. However, for the red fruit variety, there are two different fruit types, the rough, dented fruit and the smooth fruit. The images on this page show the smooth fruit form. The rough fruit plants are taller, with more fragile branches, and the smooth fruit plants yields more fruit, and is a more compact plant with sturdier branches.
The pepper is used in India in homeopathic preparations for stomach ailments. It is also used as a spice as well as a remedy to summer heat, presumably by inducing perspiration in the consumer. In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences or incorporated in smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance.
As a weapon
In 2009, scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the peppers in hand grenades, as anon lethal way to flush out terrorists from their hideouts and to control rioters. It will also be developed into pepper spray as a self defense product.
R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (who also led a defense research laboratory in Assam), said trials are also on to produce bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays to be used by potential victims against attackers and for the police to control and disperse mobs.
Dorset Naga (Capsicum chinensis) is a subspecies of the original Naga, selected from the Bangladeshi varieties of the chili, naga morich.
Annually, since 2005, the heat level of Dorset Naga has been tested, taking samples from different sites, various seasons and states of maturity. The heat level has ranged from 661,451 SHU for green fruit in 2007, up to 1,032,310 SHU for ripe fruit harvested in 2009.
High as the results were, the BBC's Gardeners' World television programme recorded a much higher heat level for Dorset Naga. As part of the 2006 programming, the BBC gardening team ran a trial looking at several chili varieties, including Dorset Naga. Heat levels were tested byWarwick HRI and the Dorset Naga came in at 1,598,227 SHU, the hottest heat level ever recorded for a chili.