The Bhut Jolokia Pepper

Bhut Jolokia - World's Hottest PepperI can honestly say that I like hot foods.  I enjoy the spice that comes with each and every bite and if a few tears are shed then you know the heat was worth it.  Just the other day I had a jalapeño infused cheeseburger with pepper jack cheese and some spicy French fries with Tabasco sauce.  The meal was spicy, sure, and I was forced to drink two glasses of water afterward to just be able to think straight, but it was an enjoyable lunch.

A friend and coworker of mine also like hot foods.  Recently he had a plate with just a small puddle of hot sauce in the middle surrounded by a bag of regular potatoes chips.  He was dipping the chips into the sauce.  He was using, however, very small doses of the shot sauce to flavor each chip. That is when he asked me if I wanted to try the hot sauce.  I was excited to give it a whirl so I grabbed a chip and went straight for the sauce.  He was right.  It was very hot.  He even warned me that when I put as much as I did on the chip that I may want to beware of how much sauce I was taking in, as it was known as the “hottest sauce in the universe.”  He was right.  My mouth was immediately on fire.  My eyes began to tear up almost immediately. Shortly thereafter I was in the kitchen trying to figure out what would ease this pain.  I tried water but that did not help.  I then tried soda and that failed as well.  I needed something with milk in it.  So I grabbed an original flavored coffee creamer and drank that.  It did not help either.  I stood there in the kitchen basically balling my eyes out for a good half an hour.  Then, when the heat had subsided itself, I was fine.  I wanted to try it again!

The hot sauce that made me end my morning in tears claims to be the hottest sauce in the universe.  But as hot as that sauce is there is no way that it stands up to the hottest pepper in the world.  The hottest pepper in the world is the bhut jolokia.  In English, bhut jolokia stands for King Cobra Chile and has been given the nickname of the Ghost Pepper over the years. How do I know that this is the hottest pepper in the world?  In 2007 the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that it was in fact the hottest pepper in the world replacing the Red Savina.

This particular pepper is actually a hybrid pepper.  The pepper does grow naturally, however, allowing it to hold the record for the hottest pepper in the world. You can find these peppers in their natural habitat in India and in Indian states such as Nagaland and Manipur.  (You can also get these peppers in the United States but must order then directly from various distributors.  They range in price from $7-$11 a pound not including shipping costs.  I have actually begun the process of ordering these from Whole Foods here in Indianapolis.  These peppers require a manager’s approval due to their intense heat.)

So just how hot is this pepper?  Well, besides the fact that you need a manager’s approval to order it at grocery stores, note that these peppers are often used in hand grenades.  The pepper itself is so hot that you are requested to wear gloves when touching it.  But in 2009 scientists learned of a way to grind up these peppers and use them as a less lethal form of control in hand grenades.

There are videos floating around YouTube of people trying to eat these and some of them are just plain hilarious.  One guy eats one while sitting at his computer desk.  You can see as the video goes on the veins in his head starting to pulsate and he begins sweating profusely.  There is another one where the guy gets instantly sick and can barely stand up due to the pain he is experiencing due to the pepper.  If you wonder how hot this pepper is, just know that this is not your average jalapeño pepper.  Any pepper that is used in hand grenades and for crowd control is not something I want to be putting anywhere near my mouth.

To give you an idea of where this pepper stands up to peppers like the jalapeño and the habanero you have to use a little imagination.  A jalapeño, one of the most well known and widely used peppers in today’s market, rates near the bottom of the Scoville rating.  It comes in anywhere from 2,500–8,000 on the scale of hotness.  The habanero, another one of the hottest peppers out there, comes in at 100,000–350,000 on the same scale.  The bhut jolokia comes in at a rating of around 855,000–1,050,000.  Police grade pepper spray is just a step above this pepper on the Scoville scale.  I guess this is why they use these peppers in hand grenades and for crowd control.

I have never tried one of these peppers, as I feel jalapeños are pretty hot for the most part, but am not saying I would not attempt to put a slice or two on a burger if I was given the chance.  I actually have been trying to find someone who will attempt to eat one of these peppers.  All you have to do is chew the pepper for ten seconds and not have a drink of water or milk for sixty minutes.  If you do that you could go down in history and will hold the record for having eaten the hottest pepper on the planet. (That is the current world record.)  Any takers?  I will buy the peppers!