Guide to growing Bhut Jolokia the Ghost Pepper:
Bhut jolokia or Naga jolokia is a variety of chili pepper growing in the north eastern part of India. This variety holds the title of “Worlds hottest chili pepper”. I read about Bhut Jolokia several months back. This chili originates from Assam and Nagaland Area. There they smear the paste made of bhut jolokia pepper on the fences to ward off elephants. Elephants!!
Being a chili fan myself, I couldn’t wait to grow this. I just remembered an incident as I typed this. It was in the US. Me and my friend walked into a Chinese restaurant and ordered Fried rice. The waiter asked “How spicy you want it in the rating of 1-5? I said 7. After a speechless moment he wrote something in the slip and went back in. Our food came and I took a bite. It was tasting like baby food. May be I should have said 10 or something for the chili rating.. Then I asked him for some hot sauce. He was absolutely speechless. :-). Need I say more how bad I wanted this chilli?
Let me introduce some terminology here. Tell me, how spicy is spicy?. Spiciness of the chili is measured in SHU. SHU stands for Scoville Heat Units. What makes the chili spicy? Capsaicin is the compound that adds the heat. More the capsaicin more hotter the chili.
Take couple of minutes and try to recall when was the hottest chili you tasted and compare it with the following table.
Source: Wikipedia [http://wikipedia.org]
|Scoville heat units||Examples|
|8,600,000–9,100,000||Various capsaicinoids (e.g., homocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin)|
|5,000,000–5,300,000||Law enforcement grade pepper spray,|
|855,000–1,359,000||Naga Viper pepper,Naga Jolokia pepper (ghost chili)|
|350,000–580,000||Red Savina habanero|
|100,000–350,000||Guntur chilli, Habanero chili,Scotch bonnet pepper, Datil pepper, Rocoto, Piri piri (African bird’s eye), Madame Jeanette, Jamaican hot pepper|
|50,000–100,000||Bird’s eye chili, Malagueta pepper,Chiltepin pepper, Pequin pepper|
|30,000–50,000||Cayenne pepper, Ají pepper,Tabasco pepper, Cumari pepper (Capsicum Chinese)|
|10,000–23,000||Serrano pepper, Peter pepper|
|2,500–8,000||Jalapeño pepper, Guajillo pepper, New Mexican varieties of Anaheim pepper, Paprika (Hungarian wax pepper), Tabasco sauce|
|500–2,500||Anaheim pepper, Poblano pepper, Rocotillo pepper, Peppadew|
|0||No significant heat, Bell pepper, Cubanelle, Aji dulce|
By now, you must have got some idea on how hot this pepper is.
After I got the seeds from my friend, It was time for seed starting. I sowed the seeds in a tray and in 1 month they looked like the picture below. Bhut Jolokia plant is little different in terms of appearance. As one can see, the seedlings are short, stout and sturdy as well.
After couple of weeks, I transplanted the bhut jolokia seedlings into a bigger pot and the steady growth started. Very vigorous plants with multiple flowers on every node.
Check out the healthy leaves and the shine. Surprisingly, this plant was very resistant to powdery mildew. While all the normal chili plants, I had, were affected by Powdery mildew, this one showed no such signs.
A close up of growing tip with multiple flowers.
Here is Bhut Jolokia chili in all its glory. It is little wrinkled in appearance and shiny on the outside. I am yet to harvest and try it out myself.
One important tip. In case you burnt your mouth from eating this chili or any other chili for that matter, take some milk or curd and rinse your mouth. Taking water will not be of much help.
If you love Bhut Jolokia just like me, then grab the seeds of the ghost pepper here.
My next post is on the success story of an urban gardener.