The Ghost Pepper is hot no matter what you name it
This pepper is called by many different names in different regions. These local names have contributed to much confusion in identifying some varieties hot peppers. When peppers are grown for a period of time in a particular area, they can very slightly in size shape, color and heat level and pickup a new name. An article in the Asian Age newspaper stated that experts in Assam were worried about a distortion of the colloquial nomenclature (local name) of "Bhot" to "bhut", saying that this word was misinterpreted by Western media to mean "ghost". The article stated that people living north of the Brahmaputra River call the pepper "Bhot jolokia", "Bhot" meaning "of Bhotiya origin", or something that has come from the hills of adjoining Bhutan. On the southern bank of the river Brahmaputra, this chili becomes Naga jolokia, believed to have originated from the hills of Nagaland. An alternative source for Naga jolokia is that the name originates from the ferocious Naga warriors who once inhabited Nagaland. Further complicating matters, a 2009 paper, published in the Asian Agri-History journal, coined the English term "Naga king chili" and stated that the most common Indian (Assamese) usage is bhoot jolokia, which refers to the chili's large pod size, and gives the alternate common name as bih jolokia (bih means "poison" in Assamese, denoting the plant's poisonous heat). The assertion that bhut (bhoot) means "ghost" is claimed by researchers from the New Mexico State University, but as in the article from the Asian Age, denied by Indian researchers from Nagaland University. The Assamese word "jolokia" simply means the Capsicum pepper. Other usages on the subcontinent are saga jolokia, Indian mystery chili, and Indian rough chili (after the chili's rough and skin). It has also been called the Tezpur chili after the Assamese city of Tezpur. In Manipur, the chili is called "umorok", or "oo-morok" ("tree chili"). The name Ghost Pepper has taken hold in the common vernacular of the United States, UK and Australia. If you ask someone if they have heard of the Naga Jolokia you often get a puzzled look. Ask a question about the Ghost Chile Pepper and you will get an ecstatic yes.
What are Ghost Peppers used for?
When discussing Ghost peppers with a non-chile head, usually the first question is, "what is it used for?, Its to hot to eat". Well, it may be to hot for many, but there is a growing number of hot chile lovers that not only like the heat but seek it out. Once you start eating hot chiles you build a tolerance to the heat. The more hot peppers you eat the higher level of Scoville heat you can tolerate. After you develop the tolerance there is a whole new world of culinary delights you can experience. Each hot pepper has a very distinctive flavor, once you can get past the heat. Yes, the Ghost Pepper has flavor, as well as heat.
The Ghost pepper is also used for riot control (in the form of non lethal hand grenades), as a homeopathic medical for stomach ailments, for defense and as a weapon. It is also used as a spice as well as a remedy to summer heat, presumably by inducing perspiration by the consumer. In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences or incorporated in Ghost Pepper smoke bombs as a safety precaution and pest control to keep wild elephants at a safe distance. Another recent record holder is the Naga Jolokia, also known as the "Ghost Pepper" or Bluth Jolokia it was the first chile pepper to dethrone the famous Red Savania Habanero which had at the time an amazing 577,000 SHU, holding the record for almost a decade. You can purchase Red Ghost Peppers, Yellow Ghost Peppers and Chocolate Ghost Peppers.
The Ghost Peppers' heat
The hot flavor of chillies is due to the presence of a group of seven closely related compounds called capsaicinoids, but capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl- 6-nonenamide) and dihydrocapsaicin are responsible for approx. 90% of the pungency in Chiles. Chile hotness is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) which was originally a subjective measure, but today, chili hotness is more frequently determined by HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography), whose results can be correlated to traditional Scoville ratings: the conversion generally accepted is that 15 Scoville units is equal to 1 ppm capsaicin plus capsaicinoids. The Bhut or Naga Jolokia, aka Ghost pepper, was rated in testing at 1,041,427 SHU, braking the world record at the time.
Try a Ghost Pepper, You might enjoy the heat!
Uncle Steve has the Ghost Pepper in several different forms for you to try. We have whole dried Ghost Peppers (Naga Jolokia) and Ghost Pepper Chile Powder. And for those who want to try growing Ghost Peppers, Uncle Steve has Ghost pepper seeds packs in several sizes.
Read more about Ghost Pepper Heat and the SHU race for the title "World's Hottest Pepper" in the Hot Pepper Blog.