Ghost Chile Powder
We have been resisting bringing this chile powder in for several years, but after numerous requests from customers we have finally given in. The Bhut Jolokia, pronounced "Boot ja-LOW-key-uh" is better known in this country as the "Ghost Chile" or "Ghost Pepper". It may also be called Naga Jolokia, Naga Hari, Nagu Morich, and Dorset Naga. "Naga" is in tribute to the fierce ancient warriors of Naga of northeastern India. The Naga were known for the ritual practice of headhunting. Other popular names for this chile include Bih Jolokia ("poison chile") and Raja Mircha ("King of Chiles"). The name Bhut Jolokia translates to "ghost chile".
Initially, chile heads believed that Bhut Jolokia chiles were of the Capsicum chinense genus, but DNA tests have shown that it is actually a naturally occurring hybrid within mostly Capsicum chinense genetics along with some Capsicum frutescens traits.
Dr. Paul Bosland is the director and co-founder of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Chile Pepper Institute is the only international, non-profit organization devoted to research and education related to Capsicum, or chile peppers. In early 2007, the Guinness Book of Records officially recognized the Ghost Chiles grown at the Chile Pepper Institute as being the world's hottest chile. Dr. Bosland had collected the seeds of the Bhut Jolokia during his visit to India in 2001. It took three years for Bosland to grow and harvest enough seeds in New Mexico to complete the required field tests.
Oh my how time flies - in 2016 the Ghost Chile is no longer even in the top 10 of the world's hottest chile peppers. Within a two-week period, in February 2011, the Ghost Chile was knocked off the throne as the world's hottest chile by first the infinity Chile, and then the Naga Viper.
The current top 7 are #1 Carolina Reaper (2,200,000 SHU), #2 Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (2,000, 000 SHU), #3 7 Pot Douglah (1,853,936 SHU), #4 7 Pot Primo (1,473,480 SHU), #5 Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T" (1,463,700 SHU), #6 Komodo Dragon (1,400,000 SHU) and #7 Naga Viper (1,382,118 SHU).
The Ghost Chile continues to have a passionate cult following that probably has as much to do with its vivid name as it does with its renowned heat.
Some chile heads believe that the Ghost Chile is native to the Assam region of India, but Dave Dewitt, a noted chile historian, is of the belief that this chile is actually native to the Caribbean island of Trinidad. When researching Caribbean Chiles of the 1700's and 1800's, he came across one called "devil's pepper" that was considered so hot that it was not widely used in local cuisine.
The Englishman Lord Harris was the governor of Trinidad from the late 1840's to the early 1850's. In 1854, he became the Governor of Madras, India (also under English rule at the time) and was such a fan of the "devil's pepper" that he carried some of the "devil's pepper" seeds with him and planted them in India. To lend even more credence to this theory the English word for devil translates to Indian Assamese as bhut (meaning "ghost").
Indian mythology believes that when a person dies he or she leaves behind a ghost (Christians would refer to this as a soul). The Indian people used chiles in rituals to prevent "ghosts" from becoming demons and terrorizing people. Over the years they would try to locate the hottest chiles for these rituals, as they were thought to possess more heat and power.
Today, Ghost Chiles are cultivated in the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Madhya Bharat. Different climates and soil often provide distinct differences in both the pungency and heat of these chiles. Ghost peppers grown in the Assam region of northeastern India, with its extreme temperatures (up to 130° F) and very humid environment, produce the most pungent and hottest Bhut Jolokia chile. Ghost Chiles that are cultivated in more arid and cooler regions of the country often are less pungent with lower heat levels.
In addition to being used as a way to flavor food, the Bhut Jolokia has developed a reputation, almost counter intuitively, as a way to combat the oppressive summer heat. This is also something that Latin Americans believe. Chiles are eaten during the colder months of the year to keep warm and during the warmer summer months to keep cool. In the hotter times of the year, the consumption of chiles stimulate sweat, mostly from the face and top of the head, which provides a cooling effect as it evaporates.
Even the smallest amounts of the Ghost Chile can provide an intense heat to home made hot sauce. Eating just a thin strand can cause your nose to run and your eyes to water. Eating a whole chile has been compared to chugging a lethal cocktail of battery acid laced with glass shards. Not for the faint of heart.
Use Ghost Chiles to add fiery heat to chutneys, curries, pickles, pizza, sauces and wings.
Why do some people have an almost crazy fixation on hot chiles? According to Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, eating hot chiles allows us to court danger without risk, activating areas of the brain related to both pleasure and pain.
In the human brain, sensations of pleasure and aversion lie close together. Both tap into the brain's system of dopamine neurons, which shapes motivation. Neurons responding to pain and pleasure, form gradients from positive to negative. The love of heat is these two systems of pleasure and pain working in conjunction.
Dr. Rozin's research found that an individual's preferred heat level was just below their level of unbearable pain. Superhot tasters get a thrill pushing their limits, and that's the motivation behind this phenomenon.
The Bhut Jolokia has such an intense heat you're not going to pick up much flavor before you're overwhelmed by fiery intensity. At first bite, you'll quickly pick up a hint of flavor that may bring to mind green apples and apricots.
The Bhut Jolokia comes in at just over 1 million (yes 1,000,000) Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This is nearly twice as hot as previous record holder the Red Savina (a variety of Habanero).
Serving Size1/4 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*