Yes, Hot! And probably one of the hottest is the Bhut Jolokia from India. I lived in India – in the state of Rajasthan in a town called Pilani – for a year in 1955 and don’t remember this spice. There might be a reason for that. Left-Click this graphic to see the Scoville Scale. And look for the Trinidad Scorpion. It is THE hottest pepper known to Chiliheads!
The hottest pepper on the planet, ‘Bhut Jolokia’ measures a breath-robbing 1,001,304 SHU! Hailing from India, the “ghost chile” is tough to grow. “‘Bhut Jolokia’ peppers are stubborn and not for the novice grower,” says Coon. “They are an interspecific hybrid—meaning they are a cross between two different species, which doesn’t happen very often. That’s what makes this one unique and probably contributes to its crazy hotness.” Joe Arditi says, “This is the pepper than can send you to the emergency room.” [Organic Gardening]
The bhut jolokia is a hundred and fifty times hotter than a jalapeño. Gastromasochists have likened it to molten lava, burning needles, and “the tip of my tongue being branded by a fine point of heated steel.” Yet, at more than a million Scoville heat units—the Scoville scale, developed by the pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, measures the pungency of foods—the bhut jolokia is at least 462,400 SHU short of being the world’s hottest chili pepper. [The New Yorker]
There are several good sources for information on hot, spicy peppers, Organic Gardening as quoted above, and The New Yorker and an article called Dept. of Agriculture Fire-Eaters The search for the hottest chilli in the November 2013 issue. But before we go much further, just where did the chilli pepper come from?
“Chili pepper” is a confusing term, another of Christopher Columbus’s deathless misnomers. (Columbus and his men classified the spicy plant they had heard being referred to in Hispaniola as aji—farther north, in Mexico, it was known by the Nahuatl word chilli—as a relative of black pepper.) Chilis belong to Capsicum, a genus of the nightshade family. Horticulturists consider them fruits, and grocers stock them near the limes and cilantro. Most chilis contain capsaicin, an alkaloid compound that binds to pain receptors on the tongue, producing a sensation of burning. Sweet banana peppers are usually neutral. Pepperoncini (approximately 300 SHU) produce just a flicker of heat, while cayennes (40,000) are to Scotch bonnets (200,000) as matches are to blowtorches. Capsaicin is meant to deter predators, but for humans it can be too little of a bad thing. Because capsaicin causes the body to release endorphins, acting as a sort of neural fire hose, many people experience chilis as the ideal fulcrum of pain and pleasure.
In February of 2011, Guinness confirmed that the Infinity chili, grown in Lincolnshire, England, by a former R.A.F. security guard, had surpassed the bhut jolokia by more than sixty-five thousand SHU. Only two weeks later, a Cumbrian farmer named Gerald Fowler introduced the Naga Viper. At 1,382,118 SHU, it was, Fowler said, “hot enough to strip paint.” He told reporters, “We’re absolutely, absolutely chuffed. Everyone complains about the weather and rain here in Cumbria, but we think it helped us breed the hottest chili.” He posed for the Daily Mail wearing a sombrero. [The New Yorker]
There is more about the “lowly” chilli. Lots more! Read the entire article in The New Yorker about Fire-Eaters the search for the hottest chili. You will be surprised. Maybe Flying Pie Pizza here in Boise will extinguish their Habanero Pizza and have an Indian Bhut Jolokia Pizza or for the brave, maybe a Trinidad Scorpion Pizza. Maybe. I won’t eat it. Guaranteed! But I bet there are some here in town that may want to try.