After attending the chilli festival staged recently by the Chilli Heads Philippines in Quezon City, we are coming to realize that chillis are more important to a lot of people than we had earlier thought.
And there are more superhot chillis than what you and I have probably thought. Talking to some of chilli aficionados, we now know why a lot of people like hot foods, particularly those cooked with superhot chillis.
Dennis dela Paz, one of the organizers of Chilli Heads Philippines, confesses that hot chilli is addictive. There is a special feeling after partaking of hot foods. We were also reminded of a physician who is a Magsaysay awardee. When we asked him why the Thais love hot dishes, he readily told us that chilli is very good for the heart.
Chilli aficionados don’t mind paying a high price for a small seedling when they see one. Just like Dennis dela Paz. He said that when he went to Cebu, he saw seedlings in a mall of what was considered then as the hottest chilli in the world – the Bhutjolokia. He did not mind paying P500 for the small seedling.
That experience in Cebu motivated him to collect more varieties from around the world, mostly from the United States. He searched groups of chilli lovers in the internet, which are many, especially in the US. He has made friends with many of them from Florida and California, mostly. That resulted in exchanges of seeds. Although what he could offer them was the seed of the Philippine labuyo, he was able to acquire many exotic varieties. Some of them were given as gifts to him.
Dennis grows his chilli collection in pots and through his own experiments, he finally found the right way to grow healthy plants. He uses a porous growing medium that consists of coco peat, vermicast, perlite and sand. He also applies supplemental fertilizers because the porous medium is not rich enough in nutrients.
PONCHIT PONCE ENRILE – This guy is another “chilli nut” who loves to cook, eat and grow hot peppers. Right now he is growing several of them in Boy Tonio’s farm, a 16-hectare property of a rich businessman in Lipa City that he manages.
This is Trinidad Scorpio Yellow developed by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. It is grown by Dennis dela Paz in his Makati garden.
TRINIDAD SCORPION YELLOW – This is a selection of the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute. A member of the 7 Pot family of superhot chillis from Trinidad and Tobago, it packs a mean over a million Scoville Heat Unit (SHU). The hotness is measured in terms of Scoville heat units.
BHUTJOLOKIA – It was developed into a superhot variety in India and was until recently considered by the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chilli in the world. It was overtaken, however, by other varieties and considered the hottest today is Carolina Reaper from the United States. A Filipino who is growing the Carolina Reaper is Julius Rellorosa of Malabon. According to Dennis dela Paz, there are Bhutjolokia strains of different colors not only from India but also from Pakistan.
MYSTERY CHOCOLATE – This is said to be a hybrid of an Assam Bhutjolokia, Trinidad Scorpion and Pot Douglas. It has dark brown papery skin. It has a high and persistent heat, according to Ponchit who is growing it in Boy Tonio’s farm.
BRAINSTRAIN – This is a member of the 7 Pot family. It is extremely hot and very popular because of the strange, dangerous-looking gnarly appearance which is sought after by chilli aficionados. This is also grown at Boy Tonio’s farm.
CEBARAWIT – This one is an heirloom variety from Indonesia. It is popularly used in sambals as well as table chilli. It is closely related to the Tabasco and Labuyo chillis. At Boy Tonio’s farm, Ponchit says he finds this open pollinated variety to be a super producer. The longevity of the plant is outstanding. They have been planting this plant for about four generations now from the same few fruits Ponchit took home in 2010. Ponchit says he has not seen any decrease in production.
ESCANDOR – This is a super hot and super fragrant chilli from Surinam. Ponchit named it after Alex Escandor of Insular Botanical (in Lucban Quezon) from whom Ponchit got the chillis through Toni Parsons.
Well, the above are just a sampling of the superhot chillis. If interested, you should join Chilli Heads Philippines. It’s an informal group with more than a thousand members. There are no officers and no membership fee.