You might have known it already from the news, but let me once again present ?bhut jolokia?, the 2007 Guinness World Record certified Hottest Chili of the World. Why am I excited? Well, I have tasted this chili some 3 years ago when an old tea woman of our office gave me some harvested from her backyard. I could vividly remember that ignorantly tasting it was one tragic incident which immediately resulted to profusely watering eyes and running nose. The bad experience prompted me to throw away the rest of the chilies and never to consider the vegetable in any of my kitchen adventures.
But after having read many informative articles about the regarded ?king of chilies? with more than a million Scoville units (SHU), the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness or pungency, and its perceived tremendous potentials not only as a culinary item but in other fields as well like in medicine, food manufacturing and self-defense and military weaponry, I decided to make a second scrutiny of the thumb-sized but very lethal vegetable.
The ?bhut jolokia? is a naturally-occurring interspecies hybrid of chili from the northeastern India. It grows in several states of India, one region in Bangladesh where is it called ?naga morich? and rural areas of Sri Lanka where it is known as ?nai miris? or cobra chili. It is called by many other names such as ?ghost chilies?, ?naga jolokia?, ?bhot jolokia?, ?bib jolokia?, ?oo morok?, ?borbih jolokia?, ?nagahari?, ?naga moresh and ?raja mirchi?.
Just how hot is ?bhut jolokia?? Having recognized to have more than 1,000,000 SHU, here are some points of comparison. A classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, the bird's eye chili called "siling labuyo" in the Philippines is somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 SHU and ?red savina habanera?, previously ranked as the hottest chili pepper in Guinness Records, has a rated pungency of 577,000 SHU. The pure capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the pungency of pepper plants, rates at 15,000,000 to 16,000,000 SHU.
In culinary world, ?bhut jolokia? has created a stir. Gourmet magazine claims this is the new trendy pepper. With its vicious bite, the locals who are used to them, usually stir them into sauces, pickle them as a sort of spicy relish or eat tiny raw pieces to enjoy the flavor and the sharp jolt. But for the uninitiated, it could be a very uncomfortable experience. A sliver is enough to cause watery eyes and running nose as what happened to me before. An entire chili is like an all-out assault on the senses.
But there lies its vast potentials. Because the intense heat is so concentrated, food manufacturers in need of seasoning can use far less quantity of ?bhut jolokia? than they would normally require with ordinary chilies. Making hot sauce can now be a lot easier and cheaper as with only a small amount of the chili, a rather large quantity of the sauce can be made. The same goes in cooking. It is basically a heavy spice with so little amount.
With the high level pungency, the pepper has its medicinal uses. It is actually used in India and Sri Lanka as a homeopathic cure for some stomach ailments. It is also used as a way to combat the crippling summer heat, probably by inducing perspiration in the consumer. Having verified the genetic make-up of the plant, I believe that many other medical applications or uses are bound to be discovered.
Recently, the Indian Military has envisioned and now under study a fresh use of its extreme heat ? in personal and military defenses weaponry. Now that?s COOL. With its one million SHU pungency property, ?bhut jolokia? could very well make a powerful pepper sprays for self defense to avert women attackers, tear gas to smoke out terrorists or hostage takers and non-toxic hand grenade to combat rioters, unruly protestors and terrorists and for the police to control and disperse mobs. And its all possible because of the power of this fruit or vegetable.
To personally check its effectiveness in cookery, I decided to make a simple chili garlic sauce using ordinary tomato sauce as the based. This is more of testing the pungency and not really creating a sauce. But who knows, we could come out and discover both. :-)
To do it, we need the following ingredients: 1 ?bhut jolokia?, minced with seeds on, 6 gloves garlic, peeled and minced, ¾ cup tomato sauce (Sri Lankan type) and 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
In a small sauce pan, heat the oil in medium flame. Add the garlic and fry until it starts to brown. Add in the finely minced ?bhut jolokia? chili and continue frying. Finally add the tomato sauce and simmer on low heat. Continue cooking until it?s cooked through and flavor is fully blended.
Transfer in a plate and serve with any fried meat and fish dishes, hamburgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches, fried meat and fish spring rolls, fried meat balls and ?que kiam", French fries and other similar dishes.
I tasted just ¼ teaspoon of the sauce and it?s really overly hot. Considering that I only used a still unripe chili, I could just imagine how the fully mature and ripe ones could be stronger. With this sauce alone I was able to gauge the power of 1 still green chili which is beyond my level of spice.
For those who have high tolerance to chili, this sauce could be a delight. I believe, ?bhut jolokia? could well be patronized in the Bicol Region (Philippines) where eating large amount of bird?s eye chili or ?siling labuyo? and other pungent chilies is a tradition. And probably, the ghost chili could finally meet its match as far as human consumption is concerned. :-)
If you are ready for a really strong jolt, dip your finger and taste this sauce. But you?ve been warned. c?,)