The Ghost Pepper (Bhot Jolokia) (Assamese: ভোট-জলকীয়া),  also known as Bih Jolokia, ghost pepper, ghost chili pepper, red naga chilli, and ghost chilli is an interspecific hybrid cultivated in the Indian states of Assam and Nagaland. It grows in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. There was initially some confusion and disagreement about whether the Bhut was a Capsicum frutescens or a Capsicum chinense pepper, but DNA tests showed it to be an interspecies hybrid, mostly C. chinense with some C. frutescens genes.
In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the Ghost Pepper (Bhot Jolokia) was the world's hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce; however, as of 2012 it was superseded by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.
The chili is called by different names in different regions. In Assam, it is widely called Bhot Jolokia (ভোট জলকীয়া )or Bih Jolokia(বিহ জলকীয়া),- but not Bhoot Jolokia (ভূত জলকীয়া) or Bhut Jolokia, like many people call it nowadays, (Check the Assamese spellings). In Assamese the word "BHOT" (ভোট) means Bhutanese,But it does not mean that this chilli is originated in Bhutan (In Assamese many plants are named after different tribes. Viz. "BHOT ERA", "NOGA TENGA, "MAN DHONIA", "AHOM BOGORI" Etc.Etc.). In some parts of Assam this chili is called Noga jolokia, believed to be named after the ferocious Naga warriors inhabiting the plains & hills of Nagaland. Further complicating matters, a 2009 paper, published in the Asian Agri-History journal, coined the English term "Naga king chili" which refers to the chili's large pod size. This is probably because the chilli has long been colloquially known as "Raja Mircha" or "Raja Mirchi" in Nagaland. It also stated that the most common Indian (Assamese) usage is Bhot jolokia and gives the alternate common name as Bih Jolokia (bih means "poison" in Assamese, denoting the plant's heat). 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 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 (oo = "tree", morok = "chili").
In 2000, India's Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a rating of 855,000 heat units (SHU) on the Scoville scale, and in 2004 a rating of 1,041,427 units was made using HPLC analysis. For comparison, Tabasco red pepper sauce rates at 2,500–5,000, and pure capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the pungency of pepper plants) rates at 16,000,000 SHU.
In 2005, at New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute near Las Cruces, New Mexico, regents Professor Paul Bosland found Bhot Jolokia grown from seed in southern New Mexico to have a Scoville rating of 1,001,304 SHU by HPLC.
The effect of climate on the Scoville rating of Bhot Jolokia peppers is dramatic. A 2005 study comparing percentage availability of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin in Bhot Jolokia peppers grown in Tezpur (Assam), India showed that the heat of the pepper is decreased by over 50% in Gwalior's more arid climate. Elsewhere in India, scientists at Manipur University measured Bhot Jolokia's average Scoville rating by HPLC at only 329,100 SHU.
Ripe peppers measure 60 to 85 mm (2.4 to 3.3 in) long and 25 to 30 mm (1.0 to 1.2 in) wide with a red, yellow, orange or chocolate color. The unselected strain of Bhot Jolokia from India is an extremely variable plant, with a wide range in fruit sizes and amount of fruit production per plant, and offers a huge potential for developing much better strains through selection in the future. Bhot Jolokia pods are unique among peppers, with their characteristic shape, and very thin skin. However, for the red fruit variety, there are two different fruit types, the rough, dented fruit and the smooth fruit. The images on this page show the smooth fruit form. The rough fruit plants are taller, with more fragile branches, and the smooth fruit plants yields more fruit, and is a more compact plant with sturdier branches.
Bhot Jolokia is used as a food and a spice as well as an unexpected remedy to summer heat. It is used in both fresh and dried forms, to not only "heat up" curries, pickles and chutneys, but also to impart two distinct flavours to them. It is popularly used in combination with pork or dried fish or fermented fish. In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences or incorporated in smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance. The pepper's intense heat makes it a fixture in competitive chili pepper eating.
As a weapon
In 2009, scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the peppers in hand grenades, as a non lethal way to flush out "terrorists" from their hideouts and to control rioters. It will also be developed into pepper spray as a self-defense product.
R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (who also led a defense research laboratory in Assam), said bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays could be used as a "safety device", and "civil variants" of chili grenades could be used to control and disperse mobs.
Annually, since 2005, the heat level of Dorset Naga has been tested, taking samples from different sites, various seasons and states of maturity. The heat level has ranged from 661,451 SHU for green fruit in 2007, up to 1,032,310 SHU for ripe fruit harvested in 2009.
High as the results were, the BBC's Gardeners' World television programme recorded a much higher heat level for Dorset Naga. As part of the 2006 programming, the BBC gardening team ran a trial looking at several chili varieties, including Dorset Naga. Heat levels were tested by Warwick HRI and the Dorset Naga came in at 1,598,227 SHU, one of the hottest heat levels ever recorded for a chili.
- Web.com(india) Pvt. Ltd. (2007-02-18). "Available Resources in Assam". Assamgovt.nic.in. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- "Assam to promote ‘Bhot Jalakiya’, the hottest chilli of the world". Assam Times. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- Shaline L. Lopez (2007). "NMSU is home to the world's hottest chile pepper". Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
- "'Ghost chile' burns away stomach ills - Diet & Nutrition - MSNBC.com:". Associated Press. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- Mathur R, et al. (2000). "The hottest chili variety in India" (PDF). Current Science 79 (3): 287–8.
- Paul W. Bosland and Jit B. Baral (2007). "'Bhut Jolokia'—The World's Hottest Known Chile Pepper is a Putative Naturally Occurring Interspecific Hybrid". Horticultural Science 42 (2): 222–4.
- Susan Montoya Bryan (February 16, 2012). "Trinidad Moruga Scorpion wins hottest pepper title". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-04-12.
- Dave DeWitt, Dave DeWitt coauthors=Paul W. Bosland (2009). The Complete Chile Pepper Book. Timber Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-88192-920-4.
- Raktim Ranjan Bhagowati et al (2009). "Genetic Variability and Traditional Practices in Naga King Chili Landraces of Nagaland" (PDF). Asian Agri-History 13 (3): 171–180.
- "Northeast 'Hottest' chef gets a taste of hottest jolokia". The Telegraph (Calcutta). 2009-04-10. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
- Rajghatta, Chidanand (6 September 2009). "Saga Jolokia: Indian chilli acquires cult following in US". The Economic Times (New Dehli, India). Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- Sanatombi K., G. J. Sharma (2008). "Capsaicin Content and Pungency of Different Capsicum spp. Cultivars" (PDF). Not. Bot. Hort. Agrobot. Cluj. 36 (2): pp. 89–90. ISSN 1842-4309.
- "Bih jolokia". 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
- "NMSU: The Chile Pepper Institute - Home". The Chile Pepper Institute. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- Tiwari A, et al. (2005). "Adaptability and production of hottest chili variety under Gwalior climatic conditions" (PDF). Current Science 88 (10): 1545–6.
- Barker, Catherine L. (2007). "Hot Pod: World's Hottest". National Geographic Magazine 2007 (May). p. 21
- Dremann, Craig Carlton. 2011. Redwood City Seed Company, Observations on the variations in the Bhot Jolokia pepper from seed reproduction growouts.
- Hussain, Wasbir (2007-11-20). "World's Hottest Chile Used as Elephant Repellent". National Geographic. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
- "Ghost Chile Scares Off Elephants". National Geographic News website. National Geographic. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- "Army's new weapon: world's hottest chili - Trends News - IBNLive". Ibnlive.in.com. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "Curry bomb! Indian army chiefs reveal latest weapon in war on terror | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2008-04-01. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "South Asia | India plans hot chilli grenades". BBC News. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- Stephen Bates. "India deploys world's hottest chilli to fight terrorism | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- Mail Foreign Service (2010-03-25). "World's hottest chilli is new weapon for India | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- Social Post (2010-03-24). "Indian army to use chilli grenades to fight terror | India - Oneindia News". News.oneindia.in. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "South Asia | India plans hot chilli grenades.". BBC News. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
- Bhaumik, Subir (24 March 2010). "India scientists hail 'multi-purpose' chillis". BBC News (City of Westminster, England: BBC). Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "Some Like It Hot: Dorset's Ultra-Hot Chillies". Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- "Dorset Naga". Dorset Naga. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- "Gardening: 20 October 2006". bbc.co.uk (London: BBC). 20 October 2006. Gardeners' World's hottest chillies. Archived from the original on 17 January 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2012.