Raja Mircha: The King of Chilies

- October 16, 2023

By Shakthi Bharathi

According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes known as the ‘rasas’. Each rasa plays its own role in boosting health and influencing the taster’s mood. Thus, the perfect meal has to contain all six rasas: salty, sweet, pungent, sour, bitter, and astringent.  

India has been invaded time and again for its greatest treasures: gold and spice. The masala dabba holds pride of place in our kitchens, but did you know it once belonged in the medicine cabinet? Mughal physicians believed that pungent spices could destroy bacteria within the body. Even today, ginger tea and pepper rasam are go-to home remedies for a cold.   

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Raja Mircha in the style of Angami weavingpractised in the state of Nagaland; Illustration: Anjali Narendra
Raja Mircha

Indian cuisine is synonymous with spice—the king of which can be found in Nagaland, as flaming-red crescents of ghost pepper. Raja Mircha, as it is known by the locals, was the world’s hottest chili pepper from 2007 to 2010. It has since been dethroned by artificially-bred contenders but remains one of the few naturally grown chili peppers on the list. People who have dared to try it say that its fruity heat blooms into an intensity that sets the tongue ablaze. 

Did you know?

Clocking in at over 10,00,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units, a measure of the heat of chilies and peppers), Raja Mircha is smeared on fences and infused into smoke bombs to keep wild animals away. 

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