Ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia)

Volcanic lava in a pod
In direct contrast to the Anaheim pepper, the Ghost pepper (or Bhut Jolokia) is one of the hottest Chillies known to man. It is a hybrid Chilli that is widely cultivated in Northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It gets its name from the word Bhut, meaning ghost in the Assamese language, which is why it is also called a Ghost Pepper

At one stage it was the hottest, but has subsequently been beaten into a lower ranking with the likes of the Infinity Chilli, the Naga Viper, Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and the Carolina Reaper. Its Scoville rating is over one million Scoville heat units, which is pretty hot when compared to the Anaheim, which has in the region of 500 – 2500 SHU.

The Bhut Jolokia can be found in a variety of colours, including red, orange, yellow, white, chocolate and purple. It reaches a length of 2 to 3 inches. It is  extremely pretty, but don’t let its beauty fool you into thinking that it is Chilli that should be handled with anything else  but extreme care.

It is 400 times stronger than Tabasco. In India, which is its origin, this Chilli is smeared onto fences to keep wild elephants at bay, and used as the active ingredient in pepper self-defence sprays.  Be warned!

Never the less “Horses for courses”, as the saying goes. In spite of the extreme heat, you will still find many Chilli sauces and powders made with Bhut Jolokia – even though just a small amount will cause the tongue to burn, a runny nose and eyes to water. Whilst I suspect that a lot of these are bought for their novelty appeal only, I am of the opinion that if used (in moderation) to add heat to curries and other dishes needing a bit of pep in their step, these types of products do have their uses.

Make sure it is with not with too heavy a hand though!


Image credits:

This and front page: By Asit K. Ghosh Thaumaturgist /CC BY-SA 3.0 / or GFDL  from Wikimedia Commons