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For the love of peppers!

Chillies have been imperative to our cuisine. And, it’s hard to believe that this tiny ingredient that is such an intrinsic part of our food and has given it its ‘spice bomb’ tag has not originated in our land. Yes, chillies were introduced to India by the Portuguese way back in the 15th century, but like everything else, we embraced it with open arms! Today, we are the largest producer and exporter of chillies in the world – how is that for a red hot fact? But, we can agree, one is either a chilli lover or not. There’s no in-between. And, you might have tried many types of peppers in your life, but do you have in-depth knowledge about them? If no, today is the perfect day to dive into the chilli tales of the world because it’s officially the ‘International Hot and Spicy Food Day.’ So, let’s appreciate the one ingredient which has never failed to impress us with its fiery skills!

There are over 400 varieties of chillies that exist all over the world but let’s learn about the 7 hottest chillies of the world and add some extra spice to your life.

SHU – Scoville heat unit; the higher the SHU, the hotter is the chilli!

1. The Carolina Reaper – 1,500,000 - 2,200,000 SHU

The Carolina Reaper – a crossbreed of a ghost chilli (bhut jolokia) and a red habanero is the ultimate ruling king in this blazing world of chillies. Even a remote whiff of this evil red chilli is enough to bring tears of pain to your eyes. The crinkly texture and the long end tail are classic characteristics of this Caribbean spice bomb that has been ruling the roost since ages. Apart from its extraordinary fiery nature, it has a fruity taste. Chilli lovers, time to add this one to your bucket list!

2. Trinidad ‘Moruga’ Scorpion – 1200,000 - 2,009,231 SHU

The Trinidad ‘Moruga’ Scorpion also from the Caribbean island of Trinidad, is cultivated by a guy who specialised in growing spicy chillies. (Passionate much?) Around 500 times hotter than your ordinary chillies and the first ever to break the 2 million SHU record in the world – you do the math. Even though it stands in the second position, trust us, it is just as hot as the first one!

3. 7 Pot Douglah – 923,000 - 1,853,396 SHU

This one is actually called so because just one of these little fellows can add truckloads of spice to 7 large family-sized pots of stew. It has a chocolaty brown colour due to which it’s also called ‘chocolate 7 pot’ or the ‘chocolate douglah.’ Don’t let it fool you, it is nowhere near to being a ‘chocolaty delight.’ This one apparently has more flavour when compared to the rest, but good luck figuring that out with the kind of scorching heat this evil chilli will give you!

4, 7 Pot Primo – 1,46,9000 SHU

This one’s pretty rare and bags the 4th position of being the ‘hottest chilli’ of the world. It was cultivated by a horticulturist named Troy Primeaux, nicknamed as Primo, hence the name. This chilli is a cross between Trinidad 7 Pot and Naga Morich. It might come as a surprise, but a primo pepper is about 300 times hotter than an average jalapeno. Be cautious while using this one, gloves and glasses are mandatory!

5. Trinidad ‘Butch’ Scorpion – 1,463,700 SHU

The Caribbean island of Trinidad is home to a large variety of the world’s spiciest chillies and was once the Guinness record holder. Scorpion peppers get their name because of their characteristic scorpion stinger like pointy tail end and this one is called ‘butch’ because of its cultivator – Butch Taylor. This pretty chilli with its bright orange-red colour and smooth skin should come with a disclaimer – eat at your own risk!

6. Naga Viper – 1,382,118 SHU

The Naga Viper is a hybrid of 3 really-really hot chillies; its cultivation is pretty much limited to areas in the United Kingdom. Its growth is unstable which means its offspring may not be exactly like the original chilli and each chilli is slightly different. Better to keep lethal stuff like this carefully guarded and locked, no?

7. Bhut Jolokia – 800,000 - 1,041,427 SHU

Now, this one’s something you should definitely know about because it is an indigenous one. If someone dares you to even nibble at these you should know they don’t have your best interests in mind! Also dubbed as the ‘ghost pepper’ for obvious reasons, our very own Indian prodigy remained the world’s hottest pepper for the longest time until it was replaced in 2011. In fact, it gained its starry fame through the digital space when chilli lovers took the #GhostPepperChallenge. You should know that Bhut Jolokia is actually so spicy that it is used in Military grade pepper spray and smoke bombs as a nontoxic biological weapon!


Winter season and chillies

The chilly season definitely recommends you to consume more chillies. When you eat something spicy, it circulates the blood and dispels mucus from the lungs. It also helps you feel warm and lets you sweat more, boosts metabolism and improves digestion too. Apart from these, one craves spicy food more when it’s cold outside. Go on, indulge in some spicy food while the winter lasts. And don’t stop until you hail, mirchi, mirchi, mirchi!

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.