There are a few different types of heat found in food. One is the spice of roots and seeds such as mustard, wasabi, and horseradish. This heat is more of a nose and sinus heat and does not last a very long time. The heat found in many peppers such as chilies is a different beast entirely. This oil-based heat can last a very long time, and can even get worse as time passes. Capsaicin is the compound found in chili peppers that creates heat. It is found in highest concentration in the white fleshy interior of the pepper, rather than in the seeds as was previously believed.
The Naga Jolokia was only recently introduced to the Western world. The countries of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the state of Assam in India have been enjoying this pepper's heat for centuries, but it only made its way to the United State in 2000. The Defense Research Laboratory published a report claiming to have found a pepper that reached a record-breaking SHU level. The Naga Jolokia was then grown at New Mexico University, and after a few years of meticulous care, the pepper was tested in 2004.
The Scoville scale, created by Wilbur Scoville, is the method used to measure the heat of peppers. His method of measuring heat using dilution and human judges was deemed too subjective, so now an alternative method using high-performance liquid chromatography is used. This method is able to separate various chemicals and measure their amount. This way, the amount of capsaicin can easily be measured objectively. The Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) is still the unit of measurement used.
Previously, the Red Savina Habanero was known as the hottest pepper in the world. On the Scoville scale, it reaches 350,000 to 580,000 SHU. Most people believe this to be the hottest pepper in the world. Since the NMU testing, we know that is no longer the case. The Naga Jolokia reached 855,000 to 1,050,000 SHU, which is almost twice as hot as the Habanero.
This Ghost Chile is not for the faint of heart. Many seasoned experts have been humbled by the power of the Naga Jolokia. If you think you can handle it, be sure to start small. Even half a centimeter of this paper can light your insides on fire. If you just want to try it, by going to a hot pepper seeds store, I suggest putting a little in your food, with a large glass of milk on the side. Enjoy!