Indian food is incomplete without chillies. But then, our love for chilli goes beyond its spice factor. It’s the soul of the Indian cuisine that enlivens South India's delectable rasam, adds a gourmet delight to a Kashmiri Rogan Josh or Goa's famous vindaloo, and of course makes for those finger-licking piquant dips and chutneys.
But we have a formula: Hotter the chilli, the better it is. And why not, we are home to the hottest of them all. You read it right. In 2007, Northeastern Bhut jalokia was acknowledged by the Guinness World Records as the 'hottest chilli pepper in the world'. But that isn’t the only one. India’s highly pungent varieties of chilli includes other names too like Birds eye chilli (dhani), Ellachipur sannam, Hindpur and Jwala.
For the uninitiated, this red chilli is as scary as its name that sends your body temperature soaring to the sky. This vermilion-coloured chilli pepper is fiery to the core and leaves you with tears in your eyes.
With rich flavours and tempting aroma, Bhut Jalokia has a special place in almost all Northeastern cuisine.
Warning: Don’t try it without a handful of raw sugar ready in your other hand.
Birds eye chilli (dhani)
This tiny variety of chilli grows in Mizoram and some areas of Manipur. It’s blood red in colour and highly pungent that’s used not just in curries but also for making those piquant dips and pickles. Always try it in small portions to save your tears from going torrential.
Ellachipur Sannam and Guntur Sannam
Sannam chillies are renowned world over for their pungency. Grown in Amaravathi District of Maharashtra, ellachipur sannam is reddish in colour and very hot. Similarly, Guntur sannam from Andhra Pradesh is at the heart of Andhra cuisine. This one’s skin thick, red and smoking hot!
Grown in Hindpur in Andhra Pradesh, this chilli is also counted amongst the hottest in the country. Red in colour, Hindpur is not just hot but highly pungent too.
This Gujarati green chilli grown in Kheda, Mehsana & in South Gujarat is a popular spice in Indian cooking. As the name suggests, this light red chilli is highly pungent with compact seeds and should be used with caution.