Bhut Jolokia - The World’s Hottest Pepper
A brief History
Originating in the hilly region of Assam India, this is ranked as the hottest chili pepper in the world. Bhut refers to Bhutan. These Chili peppers are also grown in Bhutan and Sikkim. In Hindi, Bhut means ghost. Jolokia means Chili Pepper.
The Bhut Jolokia pungency is rated at SHU = 1,001,304 to 1,041,427. The pungency varies with seed lineage, soil composition, temperature, and humidity. For the same seed lineage, temperature, and soil composition, the pungency can vary about 50% just on the basis of humidity alone. The pepper is interspecies hybrid of mostly C. chinense (Habanera) and some C. frutescens (Tabasco). Bhut Jolokia (Assam), Naga Jolokia (Assam), Naga Morich (Bangladesh), Nai Miris (Sri Lanka), and Oo Morok (Manipur) belong to same plant.
Bhut Jolokia was originally discovered as 'Naga Jolokia' in 2000. It took about six years to complete required field studies to verify pungency levels and genetic make-up.
Up to year 2000, the Red Savina Habanera was ranked as the hottest chili pepper in 'The Guiness Book of world Records'. Pungency was rated at SHU = 577,000. Red Savina was created at GNC spices.
In 2000, scientists from Gwalior and Guwahati (Indian Defense Department) discovered 'Naga Jolokia' in Tezpur, Assam. In Hindi, Naga means serpent. Naga Jolokia (Serpent Chili pepper). Among local population the chili pepper was considered as potent as the the venom of a serpent. The testing showed a rating of SHU = 855,000. If verified, the Naga Jolokia would become the hottest Chili pepper in the world. At the time, scientists believed that Naga Jolokia belonged to C. frutescens (Tabasco) species. Later DNA analysis will show it to be only partly true
Regent professor Paul Bosland of New Mexico State University associated with 'Chile Pepper Institute' (CPI) visited India in 2001. Bosland had heard of claim by Indian scientists and decided to take some Naga Jolokia seeds with him back to New Mexico. After that, it took three years for Bosland to grow and collect enough seeds in New Mexico to complete required field tests.
Frontal Agritech, an export company in India decided to test Naga Jolokia'. In June 2004, Frontal Agritech reported test results of 'Naga Jolokia' at SHU = 1,041,427 through HPLC analysis. Frontal Agritech saw a major economic opportunity and set up a program to analyse other local peppers with similar sounding names and reputation, impact of climate on pungency, and the genetic make-up
Frontal Agritech study confirmed two major points
1. Many chili peppers were actually from the same plant. These include: Naga Morich (Bangladesh), Nai Miris (Sri Lanka), Bih Jolokia (Assam), Bhut Jolokia (Assam), Oo Morok (Manipur), Borbih Jolokia, Nagahari, Naga Jolokia, Naga Moresh, and Raja Mirchi
2. Same Naga Jolokia seeds were grown in Tezpur and Gwalior with dramatic results. Lower humidity and rainfall in Gwalior resulted in 50% less pungency for similar temperature in Tezpur
Professor Paul Bosland at CPI completes his test and reports SHU = 1,001,304 through HPLC analysis.
A couple (Michael and Joy Michaud) owned a business in Dorset England to supply hot pepper sauce. They purchased 'Naga Morich' seeds from Bangladesh, and developed 'Dorset Naga' through simple plant selection.
They sent Dorset Naga to two different laboratories in USA for testing. In April 2006, the laboratories reported pungency at SHU = 876,000, and SHU = 970,000 respectively. The genuine 'Naga Morich' from Bangladesh tested at SHU = 1,598,227.
Selected supermarket stores in UK started to sell Dorset Naga in 2007.
In February 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia as the world's hottest chili pepper. Bhut Jolokia was the name used by Professor Bosland.
Study by Professor Bosland also revealed that Bhut Jolokia is an interspecies hybrid of mostly C. chinense (Habanera) and some C. frutescens (Tabasco) genes.
In November 2008, The Guinness Book of Records publication replaced Red Savina Habanera with 'Bhut Jolokia' as the hottest Chile Pepper in the world.