Perilagu Khan wonders if people from the Indian state of Assam—where the bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper, comes from—actually use what is considered the hottest chile in the world in their cuisine. “I know they are used as elephant repellent (seriously), but have not heard of them actually being used in the native cooking,” says Perilagu Khan. “I almost think that with the pepperhead craze in the U.S., you’d be more likely to encounter the ghost pepper in an Indian resto in the States than you would if you ate in India itself.”
During a July visit to Assam, OldSchool noticed that ghost peppers are used in pickles there. “The season was ending when we were there and we were staying with relatives so we didn’t go to any restaurants,” OldSchool says. “However, I believe they are also used in curries and other preparations.”
Some hounds also report that the chile is used in Bangladesh, too. “Having worked in restaurants in Manhattan until a few years ago, I had the chance to work with a number of Bengali immigrants,” says KilgoreTrout. “They told of a pepper that was hot enough that a single chile was hot enough for a communal stew shared by about 50 people during festivals. It was before I had heard of a ghost chile and don’t remember if it was called bhut jolokia. If my geography is correct Assam is quite near Bangladesh.”
OldSchool is “not surprised” that the peppers are used in Bengali cuisine. “[M]any Bengalis went to Assam to work in the tea gardens,” OldSchool says.
The peppers are commonly used in Sylhet, Bangladesh, which is near the Assamese border, says adrienne156. There, they are “used sparingly, in their green state, in curries and bhartas,” she says. “More often than not, in fish preparations.”