Bhut Jolokia! Meet the Ghost Pepper, a deceivingly innocent-looking chili pepper from Northeast India that happens to be one of the hottest chili peppers known to man.
A hybridized blend of the Capsicum Chinense (a pepper much like the habanero) and its genetic cousin, the Capsicum Frutescens, the name Ghost Pepper means Bhutanese Pepper in Assamese. The origin of the name was accidental - “Bhüt”, which means “Bhutanese” was inadvertently confused with another word, “bhut” which means ghost. There are other names as well, and one worth noting in particular - “Bih Zolokia” which literally means “poison pepper”, referring to the intensity of its heat.
In 2007, ghost peppers were the chili champions, unsurpassed as the hottest peppers in the world with a score of 1,041,427 SHU (about 6 times hotter than the habanero). In the years since, they have been ousted by a few others including the current world champion, the Carolina Reaper.
Here are some fun ideas:
- Add to chili (of course)
- Spice up some chutney
- Make a super spicy soup
- Make hot pepper sauce
- Add a bit to homemade pickles
- Try a recipe for Ghost Pepper jam or jelly
- Add a tiny bit to sauces, dressings and marinades
- Make super spicy buffalo wings
- Perk up homemade hummus or spike-up the store-bought version
- Add to a seasoning mix or dry rub
- Kick up your turkey or hamburgers
- Add to BBQ sauce
- Add to dipping sauces
- Try it with curries
- Great with meats – pork, beef, poultry and game meats
- Smear over the fence around your house to keep unwelcomed guests and pests away! (They do this in Northeastern India to keep wild elephants at bay)
Remember, these peppers are extremely hot! Wear gloves to protect fingers and hands, avoid touching your face and especially your eyes after handling and wash your hands thoroughly as well as your cooking equipment. Otherwise, DIG IN!
As with any chili peppers, keep away from children and use caution. Do not touch with bare hands. Do not use if you have a respiratory or heart condition, if you are allergic to peppers, or if you are pregnant or nursing.