Last year The Guinness Book of World Records awarded the title of world’s hottest chili pepper to the bhut jolokia, a “thumb-sized” chili grown in India that tops the Scoville scale at 1,041,427 units.
That’s about 200 times hotter than a jalapeno.
In today’s Wall Street Journal (“The World’s Hottest Chili,” February 2-3, 2008, pp. W1, W5), Stan Sesser reports that the bhut jolokia is the latest rage among chili lovers. According to Ananta Saikia, whose firm, Frontal Agritech, is India’s only exporter of the pepper, annual sales to the U.S., Germany and England are expected to quintuple this year. Hot sauce producers like Dave Hirschkop, who makes Dave’s Insanity Sauce, are jumping on the fire truck: This spring he plans to add the flaming pepper to his $30 Private Reserve Hot Sauce. Tom Beasley, who sells powdered bhut jolokia on his website, www.burnmegood.com, quotes a farmer in India: “It’s so hot, you can’t even imagine. When you eat it, it’s like dying.”
Sesser, reporting from Guwahati, capital of Assam and bhut jolokia central, says that the incendiary pepper packs as much flavor as it does heat. He writes: “Raw, it has a strong vegetable smell. Cooked with pork in a curry, it gives the meat a perfume-like sweetness.” Indrajit Karayan Dev, a local filmmaker, says he eats one for lunch everyday. “We eat them raw, pickled, in vegetable stir-fries and in chicken soup,” he adds,
A sidebar tells you everything you need to know about vacationing in Guwahati, which suffers from lousy weather and “civil unrest.” Besides touring villages where bhut jolokia is grown, you can go on an elephant safari to see one-horned rhinoceroses and other wild game. The chili is sold in markets; buy a handful and have your hotel prepare a fiery feast.
Or you can stay home and grow your own. Seeds are available from the Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University at Las Cruces, New Mexico: 505-646-3028.