TEZPUR: The Hottest Chili In The World, A Discovery

TEZPUR: The Hottest Chili In The World, A Discovery

By Cia Usman
October 2000


In an Asian diet, a meal without hot piping peppers or chilies is like a cigarette without its tar, coffee or tea without sugar and so on. It is known that chilies are a standard part of Indian cooking used to diversify the hottest of meals.

In Tezpur, the capital of northern Assam, in India, has recently become the hottest fuss in the world beating its Mexican rival in the discovery of a fiery hottest condiment called the Bhut Jolokia also known as Naga Jolokia or Ghost Chili. Discovered by military Scientists at the Defense Research Laboratories in Tezpur and Gwalior have concluded that the Tezpur chili is nearly twice as fiery as the Red Savina Havanero variety in Mexico, recorded as the hottest chili on earth. The red savina may be too hot to eat, but has the ideal firepower to fuel pepper guns used mainly by women in the US to repulse muggers. Although the scientists would not give details as to why military researchers are measuring the strength of chili, it has now been proven as the hottest chili in the world.

How does one measure the hotness of a chili where there is no medium of boiling point? Scientists today measures its hotness by using the scale of hotness using the Scoville unit which was named after a German scientist, Wilbur Scoville, who was the first to measure the hotness of chilies, some eighty years ago. This scale, however, does not measure capsicum, the group of chemicals that dominates the pungency component of chilies. The Scoville rating was later standardized with capsicum content of chilies at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore.

Using the high-pressure liquid chromatographic method, doctors S C Dass, R C Malhotra, Ritesh Mathur and R S Dangi pegged the pungency of the Tezpur chili at 855,000 or 855K Scovilles. The Mexican Havalero had measured 577K Scovilles, about two-thirds that of the Tezpur variety. The new hottest chili named Naga Jolokia, is almost 50 percent hotter than Mexican record holder.

In their research paper published in the Current Science journal, the quartet of Dass, Malhotra, Mathur and Dangi say the Gwalior chili is comparable to the Scotch Bennet or Jamaica Hot, the Patna chili to the Thai Pepper, and the Guntur and Kashmir varieties to the Cayenne Tabasco.

The other popular Indian varieties like Bird's Eye, Sannam, Mundu, Coimbatore, Bombay Cherry and Kolhapur which are cooler in comparison, though Pune, based scientists declare the Kolhapur chili is up there on the "heat list".  SC Das, deputy director of the Defense Research Laboratory in the garrison town of Tezpur, says that the Naga Jolokia surpasses the tongue-burning ability of the Red Savina Habanero, a Mexican chili that has been known as the world's hottest. Naga Jolokia, a local favorite grows to about five centimeters (two-inch) long and to a thickness of one centimeter (0,4) inch in the hilly countryside of Assam. People grew and used it in a variety of dishes. The only way to stand of its burning effects is to drink milk or dairy products. Drinking water will not be able to quench the burning sensation infact will even make it worse conforms. S.C. Dass.


India today is one of the world's producers of chilies, with export estimating at 35 tones a year. An ancient reason of the military researchers when measuring the strength of chili that experiments about chili has been used to beat off the enemy. An updated discovery and with the effort of recording its findings however I wish those brilliant scientists could discover a hot date for me.

Apart from chilies, Tezpur is also known for her Tea plantations.

Published in Roving Insight Magazine


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