My father loves to pretend that no hot pepper is ever hot enough for him. A couple of weeks ago he had to admit he was wrong. My uncle had told him that he was breeding “the hottest chili pepper in the world”. My father made jokes about my uncle because he knows my uncle is very sensitive to hot food. My father didn’t believe him. He went to try “the hottest pepper in the world”. He cooked with it and apparently he was careful when adding it to his food. But he didn’t wash his hands properly. My mother told me that in the evening he suddenly jumped off the couch, crying and swearing. His eyes just had made the acquaintance of the Naga Jolokia, which is indeed the hottest pepper in the world. 1.000.000 Scoville units, ten times hotter than a Habanero.
I remember reading an article about this pepper in a German magazine last year. It was about a woman who can eat up to 60 of those chilies. When my father told my uncle was growing “the hottest pepper” in his garden, I had to think of this article again. But I also didn’t believe that this could be “the hottest pepper in the world”. My father gave me three peppers an after some internet research I was convinced. I now indeed hat “the hottest pepper in the world” in my kitchen.
But what to do with it? I had planned on a cauliflower soup earlier that day and now thought about throwing some chili in. Like most chilies, the end of the pepper is much milder than the centre and the seeds. So I cut of 1/5 to 1/4 of one pepper and threw it into my pot together with some onions and garlic.
Then I tried the chili by licking the cut up pepper. And yes, it was very hot. Habanero hot. Not unbearably hot, but mind you, it was only the end part of the chili I was tasting. You can already smell how mean this pepper can be. It smells like somebody is going to punch you on your nose really hard and really soon. (Yes, you can smell that.) I have read what might have happen to me if I attempted to eat one whole. But I did not even dare to cut off another piece. Only a tiny bit of one whole pepper made our cauliflower soup hot. Not “Indian hot” but “European hot”, as our waitress at the Indian restaurant would say.
This soup works well without the Naga Jolokia. It works well with any chili pepper you choose and with the amount you feel comfortable with. It will also taste great without any chili at all. It is a creamy soup with lots of fresh basil. Fresh rosemary and lemon juice make it even more flavourful.
Cauliflower Soup with Basil and Naga Jolokia (serves 3)
1 t vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
chili pepper to taste
1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
1000 ml (4 cups) vegetable broth
1 kg (2 lb) cauliflower, chopped
250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened soymilk
30 g (1 cup lightly packed) fresh basil
1-2 T fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot combine oil, onion, garlic, chili, and rosemary. Over medium heat, cook for five minutes until onions are translucent. Add celery and cook for two minutes. Add vegetable broth and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, cover pot and cook for twenty minutes, until cauliflower is very tender. Remove from heat, stir in soymilk and basil. Blend with a hand held blender or in a food processor until smooth. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste and serve hot.