Red hot bhoot jolokia

| Updated on August 07, 2020

The deadly bhoot jolokia chilli pepper is a bright gem in the North-East’s culinary crown

Red hot chilli pepper — that’s bhoot jolokia in a nutshell. The ‘ghost’ in its name could be a metaphor for the taste that is likely to haunt you for days. The pepper, grown in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur, is part of meals across north-east India. It is also a part of India’s contribution to the Guinness World Records — for its remarkable ability to move you to tears. Guinness World Records also declared it the hottest chilli pepper in the world in 2007, a position it enjoyed for four years before being dethroned by the Carolina reaper from the US.

You may, however, be surprised to know that bhoot jolokia is held in high esteem for its ability to fix an upset stomach and, supposedly, help the body survive scorching summers. Known variously as Naga jolokia, raja mirchi, Naga morich and king chilli, this hot pepper now goes into dips that accompany finger food. It has also found its way to the bar, where it goes straight into a cocktail shaker and then a martini glass. It is sold as sauce in slim glass bottles that adorn shelves at supermarkets. A start-up based in Assam has also infused its flavours in tea and applied for a patent of this unique blend.

This chilli pepper has come a long way in terms of global recognition, making it one of the most popular food ingredients from the North-East. It is as easily available in the region’s local markets — in villages and towns — as fermented bamboo shoot. Patrons of the pepper claim that the Assam variety is more potent than the ones from the neighbouring states. Little surprise then that the Assam Police decided to include bhoot jolokia grenades in its arsenal of ‘non-lethal’ weapons to control rioters and disperse mobs.

Text and photos by Rituraj Konwar

Published on August 07, 2020

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