Naga bhut jolokia, also known as the ghost chilli, is one of the most fearsomely hot chillies in the world. It’s so potent that in India the chilli powder is used as tear gas.
However, used in moderation the naga bhut jolokia brings a delicious fruity heat to curries. Use a whole pod to infuse a curry sauce and remove before serving, or infuse in oil for a fiery condiment.
In the recipe below, we've replaced the traditional mild Kashmiri chilli powder in a rogan josh with just one naga bhut jolokia chilli pod. Don’t worry, you’ll certainly feel the heat!
Ingredients Serves: 2
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp black peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 8 cardamom pods
- 1 onion
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1 inch ginger
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 500g lamb neck, cut into 1" chunks
- 1 whole dried bhut jolokia chilli pod
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 400g chopped tinned tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- Cooked basmati rice
- Heat your oven to 160°C. First make your spice blend. Heat a small oven and flameproof casserole dish (max 9” diameter) with a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat. Dry fry the following spices for 2-3 minutes without burning: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cloves and the seeds from the cardamom pods. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind finely.
- Roughly chop the onion, garlic cloves and peeled ginger and purée together in a blender or small food processor.
- Add sunflower oil to the casserole dish over a medium heat. Spoon in the pureed onion, garlic and ginger along with the ground spices, fine salt and ground turmeric. Fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking. Then the lamb neck and brown for a further 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare your bhut jolokia chilli. Make tiny snips around the chilli pod using the tip of sharp scissors. Each cut shouldn’t be large enough for seeds to come out. They are just to help the chilli infuse the curry sauce.
- Add 200ml water, the bhut jolokia chilli pod, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and chopped tinned tomatoes to the pan with the onion and spices. Stir and bring to the boil. Cover with lid and place in the oven for 1 ½ hours to cook. Check and gently stir the curry halfway through the cooking time, taking great care not to break up the chilli pod.
- If the stew has a lot of liquid, rest the lid back at a slight angle when you return it to the oven and leave a 1cm gap to allow extra water to evaporate, so the sauce can thicken. Alternatively, if the curry looks dry, add a little water and place the lid on tightly.
- When the cooking time is up, remove from oven, discard the chilli pod, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Add the sugar and stir well.
- Serve with plenty of yoghurt and cooked basmati rice.
Nicola is co-founder and CEO at Sous Chef. She has worked in food for over ten years.
Nicola first explored cooking as a career when training at Leiths, before spending the next decade in Finance. However... after a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant, Nicola saw the incredible ingredients available only to chefs. And wanted access to them herself. So Sous Chef was born.
Today, Nicola is ingredients buyer and a recipe writer at Sous Chef. She frequently travels internationally to food fairs, and to meet producers. Her cookbook library is vast, and her knowledge of the storecupboard is unrivalled. She tastes thousands of ingredients every year, to select only the best to stock at Sous Chef.
Nicola shares her knowledge of ingredients and writes recipes to showcase those products. Learning from Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola writes many of the recipes on the Sous Chef website. Nicola's recipes are big on flavour, where the ingredients truly shine (although that's from someone who cooks for hours each day - so they're rarely tray-bakes!).