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400 times hotter than Tabasco

Date: April 14, 2016 | By: bigfive | Category: Travel Blog


The ghost pepper! In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was at the time the world’s hottest chili pepper, coming in 400 times fierier than Tabasco sauce. It is rated at more than one million Scoville heat units (SHUs). The ghost chili also goes by several names including bhut jolokia. The word Bhut, given from the Bhutanese people, in this instance means “ghost” and may have gotten the name from the way the heat sneaks up on you.

From the genus Capsicum, chili peppers originally came from Central and South America. Several species have been domesticated to produce many cultivated types, ranging from mild and sweet to hot and pungent.

Chili peppers may have been the first plants to be domesticated in Central America, where evidence suggests that they were consumed as early as 7500 BCE. Mexico and northern Central America is thought to be the center of origin for the Capsicum annuum, and South America for the Capsicum frutescens.

Chilies are not native to the Himalayas high altitudes, but they are now ubiquitous in South Asian vegetable dishes. One theory proposes that Portuguese explorers where the first to bring chilies to Asia sometime in the 15th or 16th century.

Today the favorite spice, considered a vegetable by the Bhutanese, is grown in gardens and plots throughout the country, and you see the brilliant red pods drying on rooftops and hanging from windowsills everywhere. You can even catch a whiff of it in the fresh air.

The Bhutanese, especially, are crazy about the spicy pepper, which is an integral of Bhutanese cuisine. Even toddlers are encouraged to have a little heat by their elders. The peppers are looked upon as a vegetable and not merely a spice here. Indeed, the national dish of Bhutan is the ema datshi, or emma datschi – meaning chili cheese – and that is the total list of ingredients – chili and yak cheese

To explore the wonders of the ghost pepper and so much more, concoct your own Bhutanese recipe for adventure such as our 12-day Central Bhutan journey.

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