07\ Superhot Chilli Peppers
From ancient fruits steeped in grisly tribal traditions to lab-grown hybrids reportedly capable of killing a human, chillies that fall into the bracket of ‘superhot’ would make a habanero taste more like Haribo. Still think you can take the heat? This is
01 Red savina habanero
Despite its Spanish name roughly translating as “from Havana”, it’s believed that this species was originally discovered in the Amazon basin, before being brought northwards through Mexico. The modern iteration has been tinkered with by chilli aficionados in California to create a heavier and spicier fruit, and is now used in ultra hot Yucatan dishes. Despite scoring a modest 350,000 Scoville units, this chilli held the record as the world’s hottest up until 2006. In other words, it’s still muy fuerte.
02 Carolina reaper
Stocked at your local Tesco as of this year – though the supermarket advises customers to wear gloves before touching and, rather confusingly, to not actually eat it – the carolina reaper is thought to be a hybrid of the pakistani naga and a red habanero from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent; two regions steeped in chilli heritage. The legacy lives on: the reaper is the official title holder of The World’s Hottest Chilli and clocks in at 2.2 million Scovilles, around 500 times hotter than Tabasco.
03 Dragon’s breath
Grown in Denbighshire, North Wales, this unholy creation charts at an alleged 2.4 million Scoville units, making it – if confirmed – the hottest chilli in existence. As it is, originator Neal Price is the only man on record having actually tried it. “After its initial fruity flavour, the extreme heat lasts for about half an hour,” is his verdict. Which may be something of an understatement, given that experts agree swallowing one whole would put you at risk of death from anaphylactic shock.
04 Bhut jolokia (ghost pepper)
Cultivated in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, this variety peaks at around 1 million units on the Scoville scale. Tradition has it that the headhunters of the ferocious Naga tribespeople would cook the skulls of their victims with the chillies to melt away the flesh. And its violent connotations continue to this day, as the Indian government has harnessed the chilli’s incapacitating powers to create militarygrade stun grenades. Great in vindaloos, though.
05 Moruga scorpion
So-named because of its vicious sting, the moruga is another species to have been hailed the world’s hottest, this time by the New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute back in 2012. Native to Trinidad and Tobago, where its oil is mixed into marine paint to prevent barnacles attaching to the bottoms of boats, this golf ball-sized variety is certainly the hottest naturally occurring chilli in the world – in other words, not a manmade Frankenstein’s monster of other strains.