Thursday, December 25, 2008
the hot chilli and its multiple uses
the other day i read an article in the 'et' in praise of 'bhut jolokia'. before you think it is a ghost story, let me hasten to add that it is not. nevertheless it is also frightening though to a lesser degree. it is the world's hottest chilli. it belongs to the capsicum chinense family. grown throughout the state of assam,bhut jholokia has SHV(scoville heat units) rating of 1,001,304.oxford university researchers have developed a technique of determining the degree of hotness of chilli sauce without tasting it. jalpeno ranges fromn 2500 to 8000.naga jolokia is 1million.based on nanotechnology,it is like measuring blood sugar levels at home. overtaking mexico's red savina which till last year topped the ranking (577000) in the guiness book of world records. the big red chilly of assam seems to be finding its way to the stomachs of chilli loving fans from india and abroad. recently a company in UK has orderd for 10 tonnes of bhut jolokia.there are many more who have shown interest too. not only for adding spice to the food but also for use as chillicake and chilli fences too to keep wild animals at bay in the farms and chilli coated iron bars as well.
what is behind the hotness that chilli pepper has? it is a substance called capsaicin.even a small dose can create sweat pours,quickening of the pulse and tears down one's cheeks.it is also a pain reliever.in the west which is known for its bland food sans all the spices that the east gobbles, tolerance to capsaicin has been very low.however,the present generation is guzzling hot sauce like never before;tabasco saauce or the superhot habanero peppers have caught their imagination.now a new pepper has emerged. called the dorset naga it is very very hot.it has a scoville rating of 1.6 million units.so now bhut jolokia has slid into second place.the naga which hails from bangladesh has become an instant hit.
the dorset naga chilli has been cultivated by curry lovers joy and michael michaurd in west bexington near dorchester.it has been developed from a bangladeshi pepper.the seeds are very potent.handlers have to wear gloves and cut the peppers under strong wind conditions so that it doesn't strike the eyes.if you are a chilli lover learn more about chilli peppers from michael.he runs workshops for keen gardeners and cooks who want to learn everything about chilli peppers.
chilligrenades is the new antiterro ammunition.drdo(defense research and development organisation) has developed a new kind of hand grenade for the military and police commandos to force out terrorists hiding in buildings and nab them without killing them.how i wish these were available to the anti-terrorists group when they barged in to the taj and trident on the black day of 25th november.the chillismoke grenade will irritate the eyes and cause immediate breathing difficulty and swelling of eyes aand compel the terrorirsts to come out in the open.the devise uses oleoresin capsicum.
for some chilli afficionados,the scoville reading is misleading.just like you cannot rate wine by its alcoholic content,they say chillies have to be categorised by freshness,dryness,pickleability and smokyness besided heat.the flavours change dramatically depending on the other conditions.they prefer the mexican matrix which takes into account both heat and the other conditions. a peruvian chilli called aji(Pronounced 'ahhee') has a lemony taste which when fresh and dried has a banana flavour.
can a fondness for chilli-eating lead to an addiction? and its side effects? after all, all of us know from our grandmothers that hot food causes acidity. bleeding in the stomach in extreme cases.scientific studies though have not drawn any conclusions whether chilli-eating can permanently damage the mucous membranes in the stomach. andhraites eat maximum chillies.but their stomachs are relatively safe.we,perhaps are the only mammals who eat chillies.other animals keep themselves poles apart from chillies.maybe we need to draw some lesson from our animal friends.
we have exported the fondness for chillies.the fascination for chillies has overtaken jason and steve,computer software engineers.and it has led to an addiction.they have given up their jobs and have started chilli farming in devon,uk. encouraged by their iniiitial succcess they have increased their acreage tenfold and have jampacked them with dozens of varieties.besides making chillies,they also make chilli jams,sauces and oils.all cooked by jason and steve.for the future they want to make tabasco style hot sauce and also launch a new chillichocolate. it has been an exciting change of profession for jason and steve. from computerchips to chillifarming.