On a recent trip to London, we stumbled upon naga jolokia powder at one of Borough Market's spice tents. We first talked about naga jolokia, or the ghost pepper, a few weeks ago when a story came out about the Indian military using it in a type of tear-gas hand grenade. Intrigued by something that could be used in cooking or warfare, we bought it immediately.
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The spice tent had it in both powdered and dried form. We opted for the powdered form since the dried form requires gloves, eye protection, and a face mask to handle.
Having read all the horror stories about how hot the pepper was, we wrapped the small plastic container in saran wrap, put it in a plastic bag, and then wrapped it in a sock. We were actually a little worried that customs would think we were bringing back drugs and not a super hot spice. Fortunately, we made it safely home without an interrogation or naga jolokia all over our clothes.
As soon as we got home, we carefully unwrapped our prize and slowly opened the container. Our fear of the powder was probably a bit exaggerated, but we sure didn't want to find out the hard way. It doesn't smell deadly, but don't let that fool you. We wiped up the little bit of powder that got on the table with our finger. Just that small little taste took us down. We're not novices when it comes to spice, but the naga jolokia defeated us. It was a good five to seven minutes before our mouths were back to normal.
There is no doubt in our minds why India is using this pepper as a weapon. We have safely stored the powerful spice in the back of the pantry, waiting for the next time we feel daring enough to use it in food.