Field Notes

Pepper of the Week: Raja Mirchi

#POW

Pepper of the Week

Raja Mirchi/Ghost Pepper

We're used to going bold each #POW, but this week we just went bolder. It's the ghost pepper, Raja Mirchi.

This pepper commands respect from foodies...and their taste buds. Once dubbed the "hottest chili pepper in the world," people keep coming back for more.

Why are they hooked on the ghost? Let's dive a bit deeper in the Raja Mirchi, ghost pepper. 

What is a Raja Mirchi Pepper?

This beautiful pepper means a lot to many cultures. The Raja Mirchi brings a delicate heat to so many Asian delicacies. From curries to chutneys, the Raja Mirchi's spice is slightly offset by the fruit's sweet flavor. That complexity is the charm that keeps the locals hooked on this ghost pepper! 

Raja Mirchi

Image via Down to Earth

The popularity of this chili pepper has earned this fruit many monikers. Therefore, you might see these peppers in specialty produce stores...and might not even realize you're looking at them!

The long list of names for the Raja Mirchi Pepper includes:

🌶 Naga Jolokia (Serpent Chili)

🌶 Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Chili)

🌶 Bih Jolokia (Poison Chili in Assamese)

🌶 Raja Mirchi (King Pepper in Hindi)

🌶 Pasa Kala (Chief Chili in Mishmi)

With such revered names, you can see this scorcher is well-respected. So, why does the Raja Mirchi command such respect? Let's look a little closer this week's #POW.

Characteristics of a Raja Mirchi Pepper:

🌶 Heat intensity: Hot

🌶 Size: 2 -3 inches 

🌶 Scoville Units: 800,000 to 900,000 SHU

🌶 Flavor Profiles: Subtly Sweet, Grassy Nodes

As you can see, despite the heat, the Raja Mirchi has quite a nuanced flavor. Its subtle sweetness makes for a burn you can long for. 

History of the Raja Mirchi Pepper

This pepper's history is far entwined with Indian culture and cuisine. While natives have long heralded the heat that comes from the ghost pepper, the Raja Mirchi didn't rise to foodie prominence until the early 2000s.

Raja Mirchi Pepper

Image via The Better India

A London, England-based restaurant called the Cinnamon Club carried a dish known as the world's hottest curry. This meal is brandished the Bollywood Burner.

The lamb-based dish contained seven of the deadly hot peppers in its creamy gravy. Those who chose the dish have to sign a waiver before being served!

Since its debut in the mainstream, the heat behind the Raja Mirchi has come to light. In fact, Indian military is tinkering with using this pepper in their weapon arsenal! In the meantime, this aromatic fruit is also used as a deterrent to protect elephants and crops in Asia. 

Raja Mirchi Pepper Recipes

Think you can stand the heat? Then get in the kitchen. There are so many ways to use King Pepper in your everyday life. Here are a few!

King Chili Chutney

Chutney is such a versatile tool in the kitchen. You can use it as a glaze for your meats. However, it's also a great accompaniment to toast in the morning. What's fun about chutney is you can add a little spice to the sweetness. To make it even easier, we just happen to have this recipe courtesy of Roots and Leisure here

King Chili Chutney

Image via Roots and Leisure

Ingredients:

🌶 1 King Chili Pepper (Raja Mirchi)
🌶 1 Large Tomato
🌶 1 Clove of Garlic
🌶 Salt to Taste

Look simple enough? Get the recipe courtesy of Roots and Leisure here. 

Naga Style Pork Raja Mirchi

Perhaps no other meat complements the complexity of Raja Mircho more than pork. It's flavored get lost within the pork's fibers, bringing out more nuances with each bite. Your mouth-watering yet? Then check out the recipe courtesy of First Post here

Pork Chili

Image via First Post

Ingredients:

🌶 1 T Salt
🌶 Pork
🌶 1 Raja Mirchi Pepper
🌶 4 Dried Red Kashmiri Chillies

🌶 8 Cloves Garlic
🌶 1 tsp Salt

To get the complete recipe, check out First Post here.

Celebrate Pepper of the Week

Don't ghost us all week long on the ghost pepper. Follow us on Instagram @TheChiliLab as we celebrate all things Raja Mirchi Pepper.

These recipes get your mind turning? Try making some sauce at home. It's now easier than ever with our Homemade Hot Sauce Kit. 

 

Pepper of the Week: Prik Chi Faa

Little is known on this week's Pepper of the Week. However, this chili pepper has left a lasting effect on the taste buds of many people across the globe. Many just don't know that. That's because Prik Chi Faa is the unsung hero of a niche group of hot saucers. Just who are we talking about? Read on! 

What is a Prik Chi Faa Pepper?

Okay, first...let's get to the bottom of pronouncing this pepper. The correct way is:
phrikH cheeH faaH

Formal greetings out of the way, the Prik Chi Faa has a slightly sweet taste with a moderate-to-hot flavor profile. When picked early, the green Prik Chi Faa Peppers are popular to use in stir-fries.

Prik Chi Faa
Image via Kitazawa

The longer Prik Chi Faa harvest, the more heat these peppers begin to pack. Then, they are dried up and ground into spices or thrown into popular Thai dishes such as Pad Thai. These crispy Eastern peppers run the Scoville gamut from 5,000 SHU to 30,000 SHU. 

History of the Prik Chi Faa Pepper and Sriracha

Not much has been said about the history of this pepper. However, Prik Chi Faa is infamous for spawning the popular sriracha craze still going strong today!  

Sriracha

Image via Paul Narvaez

Do you love Sriracha? Yeah, well the Thai people don't. That's because the Vietnamese-American version tastes nothing like theirs! The concept of Sriracha came from Thailand. A woman named Thanom Chakkapark from a community known as Sri Racha created the blueprint for today's Sriracha.
Ms. Chakkapark envisioned a cocktail sauce that would compliment the abundance of seafood in her seaside community. She integrated the following ingredients to make the prototype for the sauce dangling from keychains that we see today.
  • Prik Chi Faa
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Sugar

These ingredients would ferment in a cask for three months. The finished product is a liquidy substance almost the consistency of Tabasco sauce. Compared to the Sriracha we know, the spice level was quite mild.

How to Use Prik Chi Faa Peppers?

These peppers are very versatile. They are semi-sweet and slightly bitter. Due to such a range of notes, you can use Prik Chi Faa Peppers to compliment any dish. 

Some of the popular ways to use Prik Chi Faa Peppers include:

  • Raw Oyster Shooters
  • Khai Jiao Wok-Fried Omelette
  • Fried Food Sauce
  • Pad Thai
  • Seafood

Popular Ways to Use Prik Chi Faa Peppers

One of the methods Thai cuisine uses Prik Chi Faa is by grinding the pepper up into a paste. That way you can use it as a base in any broth, stir-fry, or even a blended beverage. Add a pinch of The Chili Lab Forager's Blend Flakes for an added flavor burst!

Prik Chi Faa Paste

Image via Curious Cuisiniere

Ingredients:

  • Dried Prik Chi Faa Chilies 
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Shallot, Chopped
  • 1/2 Stalk Lemongrass
  • 1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger
  • 1/2 Lime
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil
  • Cayenne Powder

To get the recipe, check out Curious Cuisiniere

How to Use Prik Chi Faa in a Meal

What if you don't want to make a paste? Do something a little more natural to your roots...Make a marinade. We've all made a delicious marinade a time or two, and this one is no exception. Sprinkle in some of The Chili Lab Grove Blend Chili Flakes to add some citrus nuance to this Thai-inspired dish. Here is a recipe for Crying Tiger Beef.

Crying Tiger BeefImage via 196 Flavors

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 T FLish Sauce
  • 3 T Tamarind Paste
  • Lime Juice
  • 2 T Palm Sugar
  • 2 T Water
  • 2 T Soy Saice
  • 1 Prik Chi Faa Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Inch Ginger
  • 1 Stalk Lemongrass
  • 3 Thai Basil Leaves
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 Thai Scallion, Chopped

Get the full recipe at 196 Flavors

Get Social with Prik Chi Faa Pepper

Feel like a Prik Chia Faa Know-It-All. Spread the knowledge with us on Instagram all week long!

 

Hot Sauce Master Class: Preserving Chilies

Long before we came out with our hot sauce making kit, we can chalk up the invention of hot sauce to a time prior to refrigeration. It’s more than likely that the first chili pepper condiments were made as a way to stretch out the summer chili crops. There are two main methods for preserving peppers: fermenting with salt and pickling with vinegar.

Fermented with Salt Chili Peppers

salt

Fermenting peppers requires a little bit of patience, but it yields exceptional results. Many of the popular brands of hot sauce on the market (Tabasco, Texas Pete, and Frank’s) owe their depth of flavor to an aging process that starts with a pepper mash—essentially peppers that have been fermented with a salt-brine.

Pickled Peppers in Vinegar

Pixabay - Pickled Peppers

Another method of putting up peppers is pickling, most commonly with a vinegar brine. Heavily salted liquids like fish sauce or alcohols like sherry also make excellent brines. The latter is a fixture of Caribbean cuisine and is the simplest condiment to make from scratch. After the peppers have soaked in the sherry for a few days, you can use both the peppers and the liquid.

Now that you have the preserved chilies taken care of, do you have some dried chilies you need to put to good use? For one, you can try rehydrating chilies.

Otherwise, make your own hot sauce. Try out our Homemade Sauce Kit where you can make two unique hot sauces in your own kitchen (with little effort and little clean up)!

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Nam Prik

There is no better example of the balance between sweet, salty, sour and spicy than this Thai condiment. To make this chili jam, dried chilies, shallots and garlic are fried to bring out their flavors, then blended with a mix of brown sugar and dried shrimp paste, and finished with fish sauce. If the idea of shrimp paste freaks you out, you can omit it—the jam will still be delicious.

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/2 ounces dried chilies
  • 25 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shrimp paste
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce

Add the oil to a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chilies and fry, stirring , for half a minute, taking care not to burn them. Transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the garlic to the skillet and fry for about 15 seconds, until barely brown, then transfer to the plate with the chilies. Add the shallots and fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer to the plate with the chilies. Remove the skillet from heat, leaving the oil in the pan.

Place the chilies, garlic and shallots in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the shrimp paste, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Then stir in the reserved chili paste, 2 tablespoons water and the fish sauce. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is combined and slightly thickened. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.