Know Thy Chilli
An Introduction to Some of the World's Favourites
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Bhut Jolokia

Discover The Sweet Pain Of The Bhut Jolokia

Once upon a time the habanero chilli was the hottest thing on earth. Not any longer; the new champion is a little chilli pepper from Assam known as the Bhut Jolokia. Rated at nearly 1 million on the Scoville scale of chilli pepper heat, the Bhut Jolokia cleanly beat out the former champion habanero at nearly double its heat, making it the new representative of hellfire in cooking.

For those that might be curious, the Scoville scale was originally designed to measure the sugar-water dilution that was needed to nullify the heat in any pepper. Advances in cooking technology now allow us to separate the different compounds that are present in the peppers and supplies the heat when eaten. There are two main compounds recognized as a primary source: mustard oil, which provides the kick in wasabi and horseradish and capsaicin, which is found primarily in chilli peppers. Wasabi might clear your nasal passages and sinuses with its cloying heat but capsaicin is the fire that burns your stomach, throat, tongue and mouth.

Once the Scoville scale became the accepted measurement, the testing of all the legendary peppers available revealed some surprising results. Jalapenos, thought to be intolerable by the average diner, came in at a rather cool 2500 to 8000 on the scale. The Red Savina Habanero was the next legend to be dethroned, when it was discovered that it only measured out at 350,000 to 580,000, compared to the reigning king, which weighed in at an astounding 1,041,427 on the Scoville scale.

The Bhut Jolokia has actually been around for centuries, and believed to have originated in Assam, India. Tracking its development takes us to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but it only made it to the western world at the turn of the millennium. It was in September of 2000 that it was first thought to be the hottest pepper in the world and foodies everywhere began to develop recipes to deliver that sweet hellfire to the masses.

Also known by Naga Jolokia, Naga Morich, Oo-Morok, Raja Mirichi, and Nai Miris, likening its sting to that of the deadly cobra, this pepper is not for the faint of heart. It offers up a unique flavour when added in small amounts to dishes that can be prepared with any variety of pepper, as well as delivering a volcanic amount of heat. It is also relatively easy to grow, discounting critics that it is too difficult for the average gardener to handle.

Germinating chilli seeds actually only requires two main ingredients: heat and moisture. Bhut jolokia requires a higher temperature than your average jalapeno, but the same high moisture level that any chilli pepper requires to germinate. Any tray of seeds will require a constant level of heat to germinate and grow, but once you have it, you will have a volcanic garden to treasure. Just be careful when handling this hotshot; wear gloves at all times and eye protection, because the steam can be painful to deal with, and that does not include the seeds!

Scotch Bonnet

Scotch Bonnet

The Scotch Bonnet pepper is a variety of peppers. It is the same species as the habanera pepper and is one of the world's hottest peppers. It is found mainly in the Caribbean Islands. It can also be found in the Maldives Islands and Guyana. The Scotch Bonnet pepper is named because it resembles a Tam o'shanter hat. On the Scoville scale, they have a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units compared to the jalapeno pepper which has a heat rating of 2.500-8,000 Scoville units.

These peppers are used around the world, to flavor many different dishes and cuisines including chili. The distinct flavor gives jerk dishes, such as pork or chicken, and other Caribbean dishes their own flavor. It has an apple-and-cherry tomato taste. The fresh, ripe Scotch Bonnet peppers change from green to colors ranging from pumpkin orange to scarlet red. With the ripe peppers, you cut out the seeds to save for other culinary uses and cultivation.

When you are working with these hot peppers, remember to keep your hands away from your eyes or any part of your skin that is sensitive. Even washing your hands after handling the peppers may not be enough to get the all the capsaicin off your hands. The capsaicin is the volatile oil in the fruit that makes it hot. It might be advisable to wear disposable gloves when working with these peppers.

As with other hot peppers, it does not kick in right away. This very hot pepper has the kick of a mule and keeps kicking as it goes down. It is advisable to have a glass of milk on hand to drink, as the milk will neutralize the heat of the pepper. If you like hot chilis, then you need to add one of this world's hottest chili's to the dish.

Some of the other names this pepper is known by are goat peppers, Bahama Mama, Jamaican Hot, and Scotty Bons. You can use this pepper to turn boring dishes into phenomenal dishes with a chili pepper flavor. If you want to increase the heat of the Scotch Bonnet pepper, just chop it up and put it all in the dish, including the seeds and the innards. For something different, you can try roasting these peppers.

If you find yourself with too many peppers to use you can always pickle or preserve the chili peppers. If you are going to pickle the peppers, make sure that they are washed and dried. Then place them in the sterilized jars. If you do not want to go to all that trouble, then you can freeze them. You do not have to cook your peppers before freezing them, but you can peel them if you want too. The skins will come off easily after they are thawed if you just want to wash them and put them in freezer bag. You can freeze them whole or chop them before freezing. You can also dry them and grind them to use in your dishes.


Jalapeño Chillies- For Those Who Like it Medium Hot!

One of the most popular chillies among those who like their food hot and spicy is the Jalapeño (pronounced ha-la-pen-yo). It is a medium sized, medium to hot chilli pepper, and can be eaten when either green or red (the latter being at the fully ripe stage). Named after Xalapa (also spelt Jalapa), in Mexico, where it originated, the Jalapeño is still grown mainly in Mexico and is also widely grown in Texas, USA.

What Causes the Heat Factor in Chillies?

The heat in chillies (members of the capsicum family) is produced by capsaicin, a chemical compound that is found in the highest concentration in the pith or membrane, surrounding the seeds. Capsaicin causes a hot or burning sensation in the stomach which is something anyone who has eaten chilli peppers is familiar with. Interestingly, birds do not experience the same sensation. Birds can happily nibble at the hottest chillies without feeling the heat at all. In fact, the distribution of capsicum seeds is helped by birds. Birds eat up capsicum seeds but do not break them up, and therefore whole seeds are passed out of the bird’s body in their waste product. Mammals, on the other hand, chew their food, which tends to destroy the seeds in the process. Many scientists have therefore concluded that the capsaicin has developed in plants because it helps prevent the seeds being eaten by mammals. Interestingly, a similar discomfort in mammals is caused by tarantula venom!

How Capsaicin works as a Pain Killer

When capsaicin comes into contact with the mucous membranes, such as those inside our mouths, it produces a burning effect. It has the same effect on skin when applied in high concentrations, and is used in medicine to help combat pain. This is thought to work because when the nerves sense the burning sensation, they can become overloaded by it, and fail to report pain generally for a period of time. Other uses in medicine include possible reduction in cancer tumours, heartburn and circulatory problems, and treatment of ear infections. There are ongoing studies into how and why capsaicin might work in various ways in the medicinal field.

Experiencing the Power of Capsaicin

The power of capsaicin is easily experienced when eating a particularly hot chilli, such as Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia, or ghost chilli, but these are among the world’s hottest chillies, and best avoided by most of us.

Jalapeños, on the other hand, are only in the medium to hot range; they do differ, though, depending on how they are grown and prepared, so it’s always best to try a small amount first! This chilli is used in a number of recipes that most of us would be happy to eat. These include stuffed jalapeños -usually stuffed with meat, poultry, seafood and sometimes cheese - and eaten either cooked or uncooked, jalapeño poppers (stuffed with cheese and coated in breadcrumbs, then fried) and chillies toreados (jalapeños fried in hot oil till the skin blisters).

Perhaps best for first-time chilli eaters, though, are Texas toothpicks, where the chilli is cut into thin strips, breaded and deep fried in hot oil. It’s very easy to moderate the amount one eats this way!


Savour The Heat of The Habanero

The habanero pepper used to be the top dog when it came to being the hottest chilli. Finally bested by the Bhut Jolokia a few years ago, it still has its fans all over the world, who relish the sweet pain it delivers on a regular basis.

It is thought to have originated in the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as its coastal regions. Once it was discovered by Spanish explorers, it spread rapidly across the known world, helped in part by the large spice trade at the time. Early traders mistook its origin as China, and named it the ‘Chinese Pepper’. The current name is derived from Havana, a port where trade in the pepper thrived and made many of its founders wealthy men.

Today, the habanero is widely cultivated in the Yucatan, all across South and Central America, and in the United States, especially in Texas, Idaho, and California. Its heat, nearly citrus-like flavour, and very flowery aroma have made it one of the most popular chillies in the world, and it is a staple in South American and Mexican food recipes. They are regularly placed in bottles of tequila and mescal and allowed to age, creating a spicy drink with a nasty kick.

The habanero thrives in hot climates. It needs a good morning sun, and the soil should have a PH level of around 5 to 6, slightly acidic. It should be watered only when the top soil is dry to the touch. If it is over watered, it will produce bitter peppers. They make excellent candidates for a foodie container garden.

The habanero is considered to be a perennial flowering plant, and with proper care and growing conditions, it will produce flowers and fruit for many years to come. As long as the conditions are favourable to the plant, it will keep producing a bumper crop of peppers every season.

There is a dark brown version of the Habanero, called black habanero, that is thought to have been cultivated thousands of years ago. Seeds carbon dated to being nearly 7000 years old were found in ruins all over the Yucatan Peninsula, and it has a most unusual taste. The smallest sliver of it can dramatically change any dish, and gourmets treasure it for both the heat and its unusual flavour.

The seeds of the black habanero take considerably longer to grow than the parent plant, but it is definitely worth the wait. Dried forms can be reconstituted easily in boiling water, and then added to mixes. It can be stored indefinitely in dried and powdered form. It has an exotic, almost cocoa-spice flavour that unleashes a slow-growing heat that has to be experienced to understand it.

Naga Morich

How To Grow The Naga Morich Pepper Successfully

Chilli peppers have been a major part of nearly every culture’s cuisine for centuries. Especially in Asian cuisine, where curry and peppers such as the Bhut Jolokia and Naga Morich have been staples in nearly every dish that can be considered spicy. The availability of these peppers in regions like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also boosted their economies, especially since the western world has now embraced these volcanic little demons.

The cost of importing the dried, powdered and fresh versions of the Naga Morich and other exotic peppers can get prohibitive after a while, but they are so addictive that many will go broke than give up their favourite deliverers of pain. That said, many of you might want to try growing your own, just to see if you can get them to deliver the same amount of heat at home as they do in the wild.

Also known as Bhut Jolokia, the Naga Morich pepper is the current reigning champion in the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest pepper on earth. It germinates quickly, and can yield a lot of peppers per planted section, if treated well. It thrives in hot outdoor settings, but will also adapt well to growing in containers, if necessary, and work well in USDA zones 5 through 12.

To begin, you will need a seed warming mat, trays, unfertilized potting soil, and a quantity of the pepper seeds. Fill each compartment of the seed trays with the unfertilized potting soil. To be safe, the soil should have also been sterilized before packaging, meaning that it has been radiated to remove fungus, mould and bacteria.

You will need to poke a hole of around ¼ of an inch in each compartment using a pencil. Insert one seed per hole, covering the holes with more soil. You will need an environment that maintains a constant temperature of between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If need be, use a seed warming mat. Water until the soil is moist, and continue watering every three to four days, or whenever the top layer is dry.

Make sure that your seed trays are getting direct sunlight as much as you can, once the sprouts have broken the top soil. If you live in an area where the average temperature outside is at least 80 degrees during the day, you can place the trays outside, for an hour to start. Increase the time outside until it reaches a full day by the end of the week.

At this point, you should have some viable seedlings that you can plant outside. You will need a location that receives direct sunlight and has well-draining soil for your Naga Morich plants. Plant them four inches deep, 36 inches apart. Water daily when the top soil is dry, and never let them get soggy. Before long, you will have a volcanic garden of your very own. Think of all the dishes you can experiment with, once they grow big enough to harvest.


Rocoto Peppers

This pepper is native to Central and South America and the real name is Capsicum Pubescens. It is a variety of the genus Capsicum pepper and nightshade family. This pepper plant has hairy leaves, which is how the second name component came to be. It means hairy. The fruits are referred to as Rocoto. When the pepper plant reaches an advance age, and the roots lignify quickly, they call it tree chile. One notable feature of the Rocoto peppers is the plants ability to withstand cooler temperatures than any other pepper plant.

They can grow as shrubs or as climbing plants. They can grow relatively quickly into four-foot woody plants. These plants can live up to 15 years, which can give them a tree-like appearance. The plant, at first, will branch at the height of 30 cm and forms a bushy appearance as it forms while growing. There may be a purple discoloration on some of the branches. The leaves of the Rocoto pepper bush have a 5-12 mm long petiole and a blade ovate to 2.5-4cm wide and 5-12cm long. The base is wedge shaped with tapering at the top.

The walls of the Rocoto pepper are thick like a bell pepper. In Bolivia, it is known as the Locoto pepper, and it is among the oldest domesticated peppers. It is thought to have been by the Incas as long as 5000 years ago. A small yellow variety is commonly found in Mexico and the Caribbean. The small red variety grows in Bolivia and the large red variety grows in Peru. The Rocoto peppers are natives to the Andes Mountains.

At first, the plant will form blue or purple flowers. They will appear as singles or pairs on the shoots. When the flowers fall over the peppers appear. It will take 60-90 days for the peppers to mature. The seeds of this particular pepper is black, not the normal white as in all other peppers.

If you decide that you want to grow some pepper plants, remember that for the seeds to germinate, they need to be warm. One method to keep them warm is to sit your pot, or potting tray on the heating pad. Make sure that you keep it on the low setting. The soil needs to be around 85 degrees. In addition, you need to plant early in the season. If you want to plant them in the garden, you can do so when the plants have three leaves. To avoid shocking the plants, you should leave them outside during the day, and then bring them back inside at night. After 2 to 3 weeks of this routine, they are ready to be planted in your garden.

If you are going to grow the plant inside, make sure that you have a pot big enough so you do not have to transfer the plant often. Make sure that you keep your plants, inside and out, well hydrated.

Pimiento de Padrón

Pimiento de Padrón: The Russian Roulette of Tapas Chillies

The Pimiento de Padrón is an heirloom frying chilli from Padrón, a little Galician village in the northwest of Spain. These small, thin-walled, thin-skinned green peppers are very popular as a tapa in most taberns in Galicia. While every tapa dish is a delicacy in its own right, a bowl of fried Pimiento de Padróns has a special surprise in store for all tapa patrons.
Spanish Roulette Anyone?

It may look like a dish of fried chillies at a tapas but a bowl of Pimiento de Padrón holds a unique secret. While most of the peppers are sweet, 1in 5 pods is HOT! Eating these peppers is often described as indulging in a game of Spanish Roulette. Once you get started, it is a gamble as to which one will be spicy.

You timidly try the first one. It’s mild and delicious and you eat the whole pod in absolute bliss. You’re in heaven!

Then you try the next one... and the next... same thing.
You’re on a roll now and you’ve forgotten all the warnings you’ve ever heard about these delicious, melt-in-the-mouth peppers.
Suddenly, Bam! Without the slightest hint of what’s coming next, you’re mouth is on fire as you bite into the next chilli. The Pimiento de Padrón has got you!

When it burns, it really burns! People who have indulged in this surreal version of Russian Roulette say that the pain creates a sense of hyper-reality. Ask them if they’d do it again, and you can be sure the answer will be a resounding yes. Why, you ask? It’s simple. Pimiento de Padróns taste fantastic and enjoying them is well worth the risk of getting burned every once in a while.

The best time to experiment with this fabled dish is early in the season, which is late spring to early summer. As the season draws on, the spiciness in the pods increases and by autumn, the peppers are sizzling hot! Ordering them in October is considered an act of masochism.

Growing Pimiento de Padrón

Pimiento de Padróns can be grown in containers. A packet of seeds will last for a few years if you keep them sealed in the fridge. All you need to do then is just sow however many seeds you need about 8 weeks before you need them.

Growing these peppers in pots allows you to give them exactly what they need to thrive. In addition to making sure they have the light, fast-draining soil they need, you can move the container in the shade on a hot, sunny day and put it in a sheltered spot if there is a sudden freeze.

These peppers are best when picked small – typically when they are about 1 to 2 inches long. Once picked, you can store them in the fridge and use when needed. Do not wait for them to grow any bigger, unless of course you love fiery hot peppers! As they grow, the percentage of heat in the chillies increases dramatically.

Other chilli plug options

Other chilli plants options

About Us
Founded by Sarah Hunt in 2008, World of Chillies is an online chilli shop specialising in chilli plants, seeds, gifts, dried chillies and sauces.

We are dedicated to the pursuit of everything that is hot and great.

We stock an extensive range of chilli plugs and plants varieties from around the world. VAT reg 223 1269 42


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