Bhut Jolokia! As I hear the name, it gives me a creepy and terrifying sensation enough to curdle my blood. A friend of mine gave a bhut and warned by saying, “khale mori jabi” (which means if eaten, I die). It has been said, those who had, had experienced ghostly aberration. Oh Yes! If you want to show victory over the bhuts, they directly slap your groins! Stan Sesser’s article in the Wall Street Journal describes the bhut as “It’s 200 times hotter than the jalapeño. Workers handle it with goggles and face masks. And spicy-food lovers can’t wait to get their hands on it. Most admirers prefer eating them. The Indian pepper is the latest discovery by a fraternity of eaters who relish the sweaty, addictive pleasures of hot chilies.” Oh my Gosh! we in North East India are having them since generations!
Place of origin: Assam, Nagaland and other areas in North –Eastern States of India. They are also grown in small quantities in South America but usually for commercial purpose and household consumption.
Colour, shape and size:
Colours vary from red, orange and yellow. They are green when unripe
Bhuts are plumpy, rough and tapers towards tip
They come in varied size but not beyond 2 to 3 inches
They have dented skin and are easy to tear
Writer’s experience with Bhut
The red colour of the skin makes it attractive and fiery appealing. Hot at the first sight!
The aroma of the skin carries a distinct aroma which curiously invites to indulge in more by biting?! ( please avoid licking!!!)
It adds a twist to normal everyday dishes
Locals believe that Bhuts keep stomach pain away
They are said to beat summer heat
Used as a major ingredients in smoke gas. (Growth in defense productions ?!..We will have chilly bombs and missiles..Why can’t ?)
Used for peppery flavor in candies and sweet dishes. ( wow! Futuristic sweet dishes!)
Best way to consume Bhut is by
Adding thin small slices to salads for garnishing
By preserving as pickles
Adding them in chutneys
As flavouring agent in dishes
Contenders and look alike of Bhut Jolokia
Bhut Chutney, the recipe is a side dish and sort of chutney or else can be used as a dip for snacks or salads.
2 preferably fresh ripe bhut. If fresh are not available, dried ones are okay to use
½ slice of small lemon ( sourness as per one’s choice)
3 large pods of garlic
1 medium large red and ripe tomato. ( prefer roasted ones ) or else boil tomatoes would do
Salt to taste.
Roast tomato until the skin becomes dark, soft and cracks begin to appear. Or, boil the tomato. Peel off the skin and keep aside.
Boil dry bhut in water for few minutes until they are soft. If fresh, not to worry, one can use them directly.
In a food processor or blender, combine tomato, garlics, bhut and salt to taste. Make a paste and add lime juice. Refrigerate covered.
A traditional Bhut pickle
Dry the fresh ripe raw bhut jolokias under the sun for few days
Put them in an air-tight container with raw mustard oil till soaked with salt. Keep them for few days under direct sunrays and refrigerate.
The oil can be used later while making curries..or flavoring agent.
The other day, I was with a guest who visited Mexico and asked her if she was aware of bhut jolokia. She frantically nodded and as we sat slurping some Naga dishes in Dilli Haat, she narrated on how her friend had bhuts. She said, “The bhuts were soaked in vodka for few hours and pat dried to be had along with snacks”. She tasted that way and found the heat toned down.
Let’s give a try soaking Bhuts in local drink called Lao Paani.. and create LAU-PAANI BHUT!!
Bhut Jolokias kept under direct sunrays for a day. Photo by Sanzeeta