Raja Mirchi Chile Peppers
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Raja Mirchi chile peppers are small, straight to curved pods, averaging 5 to 7 centimeters in length, and have a conical shape that tapers to a distinct point on the non-stem end. The pods widely vary in shape, size, and spice, depending on the soil and climate the pepper is grown in, and the skin is waxy and semi-rough, covered in deep furrows, grooves, and wrinkles. The crinkled skin also ripens from green to bright red when mature. Underneath the surface, the flesh is thin, crisp, and pale green to red, depending on maturity, and encases a central cavity filled with round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Raja Mirchi chile peppers are subtly sweet, grassy, and smoky, followed by a scorching heat that builds in intensity and lingers on the palate.
Raja Mirchi chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through fall.
Raja Mirchi chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum chinense, are very hot, hybrid pods that belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Bhut Jolokia, Naga Jolokia, Bih Jolokia, Pasa Kala, and the King chile, Raja Mirchi chile peppers are a variety of ghost pepper that is highly prized in Indian cuisine and is seen as an esteemed pepper to serve to guests. In India, bhut is a name derived from the Bhutia Indians, which roughly translates to mean “ghost,” and the peppers are commonly incorporated into curries and chutney. Raja Mirchi chile peppers are considered very hot peppers, ranging 800,000-1,041,427 SHU on the Scoville scale, and the intense spice can linger on the palate for up to thirty minutes after consumption. Outside of India, the peppers are considered a specialty variety grown by self-proclaimed “chiliheads” in home gardens and are primarily used in hot sauces.
Raja Mirchi chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help boost the immune system and repair damage within the skin caused by environmental aggressors. The peppers also contain a high amount of capsaicin, which is a chemical compound that triggers the brain to feel the sensation of heat or spice. Capsaicin contains many anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce digestive irregularities and encourages the body to sweat, creating a cooling sensation on hot summer days.
Raja Mirchi chile peppers should be used with extreme caution as the intense spice affects each individual differently and may render a dish inedible if too much is used. It is recommended to be used sparingly, and gloves and goggles should be worn when handling and slicing the pepper. Raja Mirchi chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as stir-frying, simmering, and sautéing, and the peppers are also utilized as a condiment or preserved in oil and pickling brines. When fresh, Raja Mirchi chile peppers can be minced into relishes and marinades, chopped into salsa, or dried, ground into a powder, and used as a rub on grilled meats. The peppers can also be charred and blended with herbs and aromatics to make a smoky hot sauce, cooked into jelly, or diced and mixed into curries, stews, and chilis. Raja Mirchi chile peppers pair well with spices such as turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, cardamom, garam masala, and ginger, legumes, potatoes, peas, cilantro, tomatoes, and meats such as lamb, beef, pork, and poultry. Fresh peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when loosely stored whole and unwashed in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In the early 2000s, Raja Mirchi chile peppers were used at the Cinnamon Club restaurant in London to create a dish known as the “Bombay Burner.” Touted as the world’s hottest curry, a lamb filling is stuffed into some of the hottest peppers, including the Raja Mirchi, and are coated in a thick, flavorful gravy. When the dish is ordered, a release form is presented to the consumer, having them acknowledge the dangerous levels of heat in the dish and that they are willingly consuming the fiery meal.
Raja Mirchi chile peppers are native to the states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, located in the small northeastern panhandle of India. These regions are known for their extreme temperatures, reaching up to 54 °C, and it is believed that the temperature and high humidity are what contribute to the escalating heat levels within the peppers. Raja Mirchi chile peppers first gained international attention in 2000 when an Assam based defense research laboratory claimed the variety as the world’s hottest pepper. The pepper was then studied for its official Scoville units in 2005 by Dr. Paul Bosland at the Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University in the United States, where it tested at a whopping 1,001,304 Scoville units. Today Raja Mirchi chile peppers are somewhat challenging to find as they are not sold in commercial markets. The peppers are available through online seed catalogs, farmer's markets, specialty grocers, and through chile pepper enthusiasts in Asia, especially in India, Bangladesh, China, and Sri Lanka, Mexico, the United States, and Europe.
Recipes that include Raja Mirchi Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Roots and Leisure||King Chili (Raja Mirchi) Chutney|
|At My Kitchen||Raja Mirchi Chutney|
|First Post||Naga-Style Pork Raja Mirchi|