Chili Powder, Ghost (Bhut Jolokia)
The Bhut Jolokia, pronounced "Boot ja-LOW-key-uh" is better known in this country as the "Ghost Chile" or “Ghost Pepper”. It may also be called Naga Jolokia, Naga Hari, Nagu Morich, and Dorset Naga. “Naga” is in tribute to the fierce ancient warriors of Naga of northeastern India. The Naga were known for the ritual practice of headhunting. Other popular names for this chile include Bih Jolokia (“poison chile”) and Raja Mircha (“King of Chiles"). The name Bhut Jolokia translates to "ghost chile".
Some chile heads believe that the Ghost Chile is native to the Assam region of India, but Dave Dewitt, a noted chile historian, is of the belief that this chile is actually native to the Caribbean island of Trinidad. When researching Caribbean Chiles of the 1700's and 1800's, he came across one called "devil's pepper" that was considered so hot that it was not widely used in local cuisine.
The Englishman Lord Harris was the governor of Trinidad from the late 1840’s to the early 1850’s. In 1854, he became the Governor of Madras, India (also under English rule at the time) and was such a fan of the "devil's pepper" that he carried some of the “devil’s pepper” seeds with him and planted them in India. To lend even more credence to this theory the English word for devil translates to Indian Assamese as bhut (meaning "ghost").
In 2016 the Ghost Chile is no longer even in the top 10 of the world's hottest chile peppers. Within a two-week period, in February 2011, the Ghost Chile was knocked off the throne as the world’s hottest chile by first the infinity Chile, and then the Naga Viper.
The current top 7 are #1 Carolina Reaper (2,200,000 SHU), #2 Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (2,000, 000 SHU), #3 7 Pot Douglah (1,853,936 SHU), #4 7 Pot Primo (1,473,480 SHU), #5 Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T" (1,463,700 SHU), #6 Komodo Dragon (1,400,000 SHU) and #7 Naga Viper (1,382,118 SHU).
The Ghost Chile continues to have a passionate cult following that probably has as much to do with its vivid name as it does with its renowned heat.