What Are Ghost Peppers?

If you haven’t heard yet, Ghost Peppers is the western term for Naga Jolokia peppers that originated from the mountains of India. Rated with over a million Scoville units, the Ghost Pepper’s intense and almost hellish spiciness is considered by the Guinness Book of World Records as the spiciest chili pepper on the planet.

Naga Jolokia peppers are cultivated in the hillside regions of India and some parts of Bangladesh where it is considered as an herbal food to ward off stomach pains. The locals believe that the strong, tenacious spice of the ghost pepper is enough to cancel out abnormal acidic reactions in the stomach. Ghost peppers are eaten and consumed in these regions on a daily basis, using them as a main ingredient or spice to their dishes. A ripe pepper pod measures around 2.4 to 2.5 inches in an orange or red hue. Unlike other kinds of peppers, it has very thin skin and has a wide range of fruit sizes.

If you can’t imagine how spicy the Ghost Pepper is, its Scoville units confirm that it is 300 times hotter than the jalapeno. Those who have tried it say that once the surface of a ghost pepper touches the tongue, the feeling almost akin to licking a hot rod without actually burning. Some say chewing on a fresh pod will send a cloud-like pressure all over the body that will try to escape through the scalp. Although these testimonials seem horrific, many culinary daredevils still find satisfaction in eating bhut jolokia peppers. These peppers are usually watered down before even reaching the market to potentially reduce its spiciness. Growing ghost peppers is a painstaking job, that’s why folks in the Western hemisphere usually enjoy them in dried form, though there are some who choose to grow their own for a more genuine and spicier taste.

Although not particularly accepted by everyone as edible, these peppers are slowly making their way to the culinary mainstream. The best places to find ghost chilis dishes and pods are Indian restaurants, markets and stores, and even eBay. The next time you stumble upon a dish with the phrase “ghost pepper” in it, you should think twice before literally putting your mouth into the pit of fire.