Meet the Chilli King from North-East India

The Indian army plans to use it as a weapon to force terrorists out of their hide-outs. Tribes in North-East India use it to ward off mean elephants. The adventurous use it to test their tolerance levels. Others find it a perfect accompaniment to their daily meals.

Meet the Bhut Jolokia (also referred to as ‘Ghost Pepper’), a chilli that grows in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur and is considered one of the spiciest chillies in the world.

It was certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chilli in 2007. It has since been dethroned but has lost none of it’s heat and charm.

Named after North-Eastern tribes of Assam, this chilli is also believed to refer to ferocious Naga warriors inhabiting the plains & hills of Nagaland.

These chillies are hand-plucked by villagers and then left to dry as they tend to spoil fast. Drying either involves smoke where chillies are spread out in a woven basket over the fireplace or a modern method that involves keeping chillies in an oven for 24 to 30 hours at a low but constant temperature. This helps chillies retain colour and texture.

Bhut Jolokia pods are unique among peppers, with their characteristic shape, and very thin skin. It is used by locals to “heat up” curries, pickles and chutneys as well as a remedy to summer heat. It is popularly used in combination with pork or dried fish or fermented fish.

Whether this chilli finds its way inside a hand grenade, a pepper spray or on the side of a pork dish, it is clear that it is not for the faint-hearted.

– by Manika Dhama

Image Courtesy: The Guardian, Urban Farmer

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