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Bhot Jolokia (Ghost Pepper)
Fresh Bhut Jolokia
Heat Exceptionally hot
Scoville scale 330,000–1,532,310-[source not sure] SHU

The Bhot Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) (Assamese: ভোট-জলকীয়া), [1][2] also known as Naga Jolokia, Bih Jolokia, ghost chili pepper, red naga chili and ghost chili is an interspecific hybrid cultivated in the Indian states of Assam and Nagaland.[3][4] It also grows in the Indian state of Manipur. Despite initial confusion and disagreement about whether the Bhut was a Capsicum frutescens[5] or a Capsicum chinense pepper, DNA tests showed it to be an interspecific hybrid, mostly C. chinense with some C. frutescens genes.[6]

Bhot Jolokia is not widely grown as the plant is delicate and difficult to grow since it is susceptible to a variety of pests an diseases.[4]

In 2007, Guinness World Records declared the Ghost Pepper the world's hottest chili pepper; however, in 2012 it was superseded by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.[7] The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was also detroned, in December 2013, as the world's hottest pepper.[8]


The Bhut Jolokia is known 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, which are more common variations of the name. In Assamese the word "bhot" (ভোট) means Bhutanese; however, this does not mean that the chili originated in Bhutan since in Assamese many plants are named after different tribes. In some parts of Assam this chili is called Noga jolokia, believed to be named after the Naga warriors inhabiting the plains and hills of Nagaland.[9] 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.[10][11] This is probably because the chili has long been colloquially referred to as "Raja Mircha" or "Raja Mirchi" in Nagaland. It also stated that the most common Indian usage is Bhot jolokia which is reflected in the alternate common name Bih Jolokia. Bih means "poison" in Assamese, which denotes the plant's heat. The Assamese word "jolokia" refers to the Capsicum pepper. Other names for the chili in India are Saga Jolokia, Indian mystery chili, and Indian rough chili (due to the chili's rough skin).[10][12] It has also been called the Tezpur chili after the Assamese city of Tezpur.[9] In Manipur, the chili is called umorok or oo-morok, with "oo" meaning "tree" and "morok" meaning "chili".[13]

Scoville rating[edit]

In 2000, India's Defence Research Laboratory reported a rating of 855,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) on the Scoville scale,[5] and in 2004 a rating of 1,041,427 units was made using HPLC analysis.[14] For comparison, Tabasco red pepper sauce has a rating of 2,500–5,000 SHU(401.5 times milder than Bhut Jolokia) and pure capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the pungency of pepper plants)has a rating of 16,000,000 SHU.

In 2005, at New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute near Las Cruces, New Mexico,[15] Professor Paul Bosland found Bhut Jolokia grown from seeds in southern New Mexico to have a Scoville rating of 1,001,304 SHU by HPLC.[3]

The effect of climate on the Scoville rating of Bhut Jolokia peppers is dramatic. A 2005 study comparing percentage availability of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin in Bhut Jolokia peppers grown in Tezpur, India showed that the heat of the pepper is decreased by over 50% in Gwalior's more arid climate.[16] Additionally, scientists at Manipur University found that Bhot Jolokia's average Scoville rating by HPLC was only 329,100 SHU.[13]

Physical Characteristics[edit]

Ripe Bhut Jolokia peppers measure, on average, 60 to 85 mm (2.4 to 3.3 in) long and 25 to 30 mm (1.0 to 1.2 in) wide. They come in red, yellow, orange and chocolate colors. The Bhut Jolokia is naturally an extremely variable plant, ranging greatly in fruit size and the amount of fruit each plant can produce. This offers huge potential for developing better strains, through the process of selection, in the future. Bhut Jolokia pods are unique among peppers, with their characteristic shape, and extremely thin skin.[17] Interestingly, for the red fruit variety, there are two different fruit types, a rough, dented fruit and a smooth fruit. The rough fruit plant is taller, with more fragile branches, whereas the smooth fruit plant yields more fruit, is more compact and has sturdier branches.[18]


Bhut Jolokia is used as a food and a spice as well as a remedy to summer heat. It is also an effective remedy for stomach ills.[4] It is used in both fresh and dried forms, to add heat to curries, pickles and chutneys, and to impart two distinct flavours to them. The pepper is popularly used in combination with pork and dried or fermented fish. In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences and incorporated into smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance.[19][20] The pepper's intense heat makes it a fixture in competitive chili pepper eating.[3]

As a weapon[edit]

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. The pepper will also be developed into pepper spray as a self-defense product.[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences department at the New Delhi headquarters of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation , said aerosol sprays made from Bhut Jolokia could be used as "safety device[s]", and "civil variants" of chili grenades to control and disperse mobs.[30]

Dorset Naga[edit]

The Dorset Naga is a sub-strain of the original Naga, selected from the Bangladeshi varieties of the chili, naga morich.[31]

Since 2005, the heat level of Dorset Naga has been tested annually by taking samples from different sites, in 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.[32]

The BBC's television show Gardeners' World ran a trial looking at several chili varieties, including the Dorset Naga. Heat levels were tested by Warwick HRI and the Dorset Naga rated 1,598,227 SHU, one of the highest levels ever recorded for a chili.[31][33]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pvt. Ltd. (2007-02-18). "Available Resources in Assam". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  2. ^ "Assam to promote ‘Bhot Jalakiya’, the hottest chili of the world". Assam Times. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  3. ^ a b 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. 
  4. ^ a b c "'Ghost chile' burns away stomach ills - Diet & Nutrition -". Associated Press. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  5. ^ a b Mathur R; et al. (2000). "The hottest chili variety in India" (PDF). Current Science. 79 (3): 287–8. 
  6. ^ Paul W. Bosland and Jit B. Baral (2007). "'Bhut Jolokia'—The World's Hottest Known Chile Pepper is a Putative Naturally Occurring Interspecific Hybrid" (PDF). Horticultural Science. 42 (2): 222–4. 
  7. ^ Susan Montoya Bryan (February 16, 2012). "Trinidad Moruga Scorpion wins hottest pepper title". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-04-12. 
  8. ^ "Hottest Chili". Guiness World Records. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Dave DeWitt, Dave DeWitt coauthors=Paul W. Bosland (2009). The Complete Chile Pepper Book. Timber Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-88192-920-4. 
  10. ^ a b 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. 
  11. ^ "Northeast 'Hottest' chef gets a taste of hottest jolokia". The Telegraph. Calcutta. 2009-04-10. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  12. ^ Rajghatta, Chidanand (6 September 2009). "Saga Jolokia: Indian chilli acquires cult following in US". The Economic Times. New Dehli, India. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  13. ^ a b 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. 
  14. ^ "Bih jolokia". 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  15. ^ "NMSU: The Chile Pepper Institute - Home". The Chile Pepper Institute. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  16. ^ Tiwari A; et al. (2005). "Adaptability and production of hottest chili variety under Gwalior climatic conditions" (PDF). Current Science. 88 (10): 1545–6. 
  17. ^ Barker, Catherine L. (2007). "Hot Pod: World's Hottest". National Geographic Magazine. 2007 (May). p. 21. 
  18. ^ Dremann, Craig Carlton. 2011. Redwood City Seed Company, Observations on the variations in the Bhut Jolokia pepper from seed reproduction grow-outs.
  19. ^ Hussain, Wasbir (2007-11-20). "World's Hottest Chile Used as Elephant Repellent". National Geographic. Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  20. ^ "Ghost Chile Scares Off Elephants". National Geographic News website. National Geographic. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  21. ^ "Army's new weapon: world's hottest chili - Trends News - IBNLive". 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  22. ^ "Curry bomb! Indian army chiefs reveal latest weapon in war on terror | Mail Online". 2008-04-01. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  23. ^ "South Asia | India plans hot chilli grenades". BBC News. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  24. ^ Stephen Bates. "India deploys world's hottest chilli to fight terrorism | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  25. ^ Mail Foreign Service (2010-03-25). "World's hottest chilli is new weapon for India | Mail Online". Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  26. ^ [1][dead link]
  27. ^ [2][dead link]
  28. ^ Social Post (2010-03-24). "Indian army to use chilli grenades to fight terror | India - Oneindia News". Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  29. ^ "South Asia | India plans hot chilli grenades.". BBC News. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  30. ^ Bhaumik, Subir (24 March 2010). "India scientists hail 'multi-purpose' chillis". BBC News. City of Westminster, England: BBC. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  31. ^ a b "Some Like It Hot: Dorset's Ultra-Hot Chillies". Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  32. ^ "Dorset Naga". Dorset Naga. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  33. ^ "Gardening: 20 October 2006". London: BBC. 20 October 2006. Gardeners' World's hottest chillies. Archived from the original on 17 January 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 

Category:Articles with inconsistent citation formats Category:Assam Category:Capsicum cultivars Category:Chili peppers Category:Medicinal plants of Asia