Currypedia No 6: Bhut Jolokia ... The Ghost Pepper

Ahoy there curry fans. It's been a while but the time has come once again to dip into our occasional look at the facts and figures of the curry world. Yes, it's the return of Currypedia.

The recent appearance of a Shish Mahal Lamb Madras (at The Commander's 60th) and hearing tales of New York's Phaal Challenge (in Martin Jalfrezi's excellent New York review here, also seen being tackled in this video) got me thinking about just how spicy the world of curry can get. I'm not ashamed to admit that I just can't take the heat anymore but when it comes to my curry compadre Trampy it's a different story - he's chilli daft.

Recently Trampy observed that many of the restaurants TATTGOC visit no longer mention such fierce dishes as Vindaloo on their menus - are the Scots wimping out of their love of fiery curries? Glasgow city centre curryhouse Bombay Blues used to offer up a challenge similar to that of The Brick Lane Curry House mentioned above - any patron that finished their Infernal Tindaloo Double Chilli (once classed as the hottest curry in the UK) became the proud owner of a Hot Curry Challenge certificate. A glance over their current menu shows no sign of the evil feast. But even if super-hot curries are falling out of favour, there is some good news for hardcore spicy lovers. After a bit of research I think I may have found a chilli too hot for even Trampy - the legendary Bhut Jolokia a.k.a The Ghost Chilli.

A native of the northeastern states of India the Bhut Jolokia is officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the hottest chilli in the world, weighing in at a whopping 1,000,000 Scoville units. The Scoville scale (SHU) was devised in the early 20th century by Wilbur Scoville as a measure of the hotness of peppers. Chilli peppers get their trademark heat from the active component capsaicin - the Scolville scale measures the number of times a chilli extract has to be diluted in water to lose its fire. Right at the bottom of the scale, Bell Peppers have an SHU of zero. Moving up through the spice levels we have Jalepenos at around 2500-8000, Bird's Eye chillis at 100,000 while Habeneros and Scotch Bonnet peppers weigh in at a mighty 350,000-500,000. The only things hotter on the spice scale are law enforcement-grade pepper sprays (5,000,000 SHU) and pure capsaicin (described as a hydrophobic, colourless, odourless and crystalline-to-waxy solid at room temperature) which demolishes the competition at an infernal 16,000,000 SHU.

Surely, I hear you scream, this demonic chilli is of no use in the world of curry? Unbelievably several curry recipes exist using it as an ingredient, all clearly the work of madmen. One intrepid currynaut has written up his or her recipe for what is simply called a Bhut Jolokia Curry but felt the need to add four extra Bird's Eye chillies in for good measure. Another maniac, Dyfed Lloyd Evans, has listed his Naga Curry recipe as the hottest chilli dish in the world - not surprising since it contains 12-15 chopped Naga Jolokia (an alternative name for the Bhut Jolokia), and a further five sliced, presumably as a garnish. I think it's reasonably safe to assume that he has completely destroyed his tastebuds - his second hottest recipe (Fiery Chicken Jalfrezi) contains seven Scotch Bonnets, two Habaneros, two Bird's Eye chillies and eight Piri-Piri chillies. If you fancy making one of his brutal concoctions then you can find the recipes here.

I've never tried the Ghost Chilli but may pick up some dried samples for a TATTGOC taste challenge. They're available in the UK from The South Devon Chilli Farm and can be dispatched direct to your door from their website. The question is: will Trampy, or any other TATTGOCers, be able to take the pain? To give you some idea of what's involved, here's a highly entertaining and yet informative video showing the result of someone tasting the Ghost Chilli - the "old man" is Jamie Kocher, CEO of the Waimea Bay Chili Company which grows and sells chilli peppers. Ouch.



Lord of the Dansak said...

You weren't tempted to call this series Tikkapedia?

Trampy said...

Not like me to miss an awesome pun like that. Tip of the hat to you, Lord of the Dansak ... looking forward to seeing youse in June

buy ghost chili said...

these ghost chilis are hot as hell lol and its hard to find a place to buy ghost chili

Thali Ho said...

Chilli Pepper Pete, the south coast's finest producer of chilli products, may be able to help you out

Sadly this fantastic product is unsuitable as it contains Trampy-poison

Trampy said...


joy said...

I was so impressed with the recipe that you've shared and i want to see more of your recipes .Please keep posting. You can also visit my site. Thank you.

Silvia Jacinto said...

Life is a battle, if you don't know how to defend yourself then you'll end up being a loser. So, better take any challenges as your stepping stone to become a better person. Have fun, explore and make a lot of memories.