India: Scientist produces ‘hottest hybrid chilli’

A scientist from Manipur has successfully synthesised the hottest Indian hybrid chilli during a trial breeding in the northeast, the country’s hot spot in chilli diversity with several pungent chillies having their origin here.

The latest hybrid is derived from capsicum frutescens cultivar, capsicum chinense cv, and the hybrid of the two. Bhut Jolokia, or U-morok in Manipur, is currently India’s hottest chilli, after being certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest in 2007.

The average pungency of hybrid chilli is 287,400 heat unit (SHU) on the Scoville scale with capsaicin (spicy chemical compound in the chillies) content of 1.80%.

“I started breeding the hybrid chilli as a hobby in 2007 and continued with the genetic stabilisation of the hybrid genotype,” said chief scientist Rajkumar Kishor of Manipur-based Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt Ltd, a leading manufacturer and supplier of hybrid orchids. “Analyses of this chilli was done at the Quality Evaluation Laboratory of Spices Board, Kochi, last year.”

Christened as “Kishore’s fire ball”, the new chilli looks slightly curled and smaller than India’s hottest chilli whose plant grows to 5 feet long and can produce up to 50-60 fruits in a season.

Unlike U-morok, which requires shade for healthy cultivation, the new hybrid can be cultivated under direct sunlight, meaning it can be cultivated in open fields, Kishor said.

Besides, it has a low rotting rate, added Kishor, who has successfully bred seeds of Manipur’s favourite delicacy, Yongchak (bitter bean), a winter crop, in 2016.

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