On the chilli trail in Assam, India

Killian Fox in the Times of London:

Elephants_385x185_433284aWhen you mention Assam, most people think of tea. Those on more familiar terms with the state – on the “Seven Sisters” peninsula that juts out from the northeast corner of India – will think of its beautiful national parks, abundant wildlife and the vast Brahmaputra river.

Assam is a charming place, as serene as it is lush and green, but it also harbours something so fearsome, so fiendishly powerful, that even the elephants flee from it in terror.

There is nothing at all serene about the bhut jolokia, the hottest chilli on earth. It registers an incredible 1,041,427 on the Scoville Heat Unit scale, more than double the score of the previous world record-holder (the red savina habanero).

It is 200 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. And yet, when you bite into a bhut jolokia, there is no pain at first, only a smoky flavour with an intense, apple-like sweetness. Then, after about 20 seconds, all hell breaks loose. I know this because I was foolish enough to try one.

More here.