8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide might be unfamiliar to you as a chemical compound, but when reincarnated in the form of a chilli, it is guranteed to give you ‘that burning sensation’. The degree of ‘hotness’ of chillis can infact be measured in units, thanks to the Scoville scale developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912.
In1989 ,Frank Garcia, one of the founders of GNS Spices in Walnut, California discovered a plant with a red fruit in a field of Orange Habaneros. Subsequently, in 1994, Garcia’s Red Savina set a world record for heat at 577,000 Scoville units and was enlisted in the Guinness Book of World Records as The Hottest Chilli in the world.
On September 6, 2000, the Defense Research Laboratory in the Assamese town of Tezpur declared that they recorded an astonishing 855,000 Scoville Heat Units for the Naga Jolokia, named after the ferocious Naga warriors. However, soon after the AP report was published experts like Dr. Paul Bosland, Director of the Chile Pepper Institute at the New Mexico State University and Dave DeWitt, author of books like The Davinci Kitchen (and you thought there is an industry which did not capitalise on the Dan Brown fever) disputed this claim and questioned the authenticity of the tests.
Two years later, the Chile Pepper Institute received the seed of a chilli named ‘Bhut Jolokia’ from a member who had collected it while visiting India. Dr. Bosland and his colleagues conducted a comparison experiment in 2005 at a plant science research facility close to Las Cruces, New Mexico. The ‘Bhut Jolokia’ recorded an astonishing heat level of 1,001,304 SHU.
“Such is the hotness of the chilli that it can drive away the ghost, and hence the name ” says Anandita Dutta Tamuly who is getting ready to eat not 1 or 2, but 60 Bhut Jolokias in two minutes to make an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Since the legendary chilli from Assam made it to the Guinnes Book last year, maybe it is time for Anandita to prove her mettle.
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