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World's hottest chile? You don't have to go to India

October 13, 2011 | 11:02 am

In Imphal, India, hot food lovers are justifiably proud of their bhut jolokia chile pepper, one of the hottest in the world.

Also called the "ghost chile," it is hot enough that even a tiny bite can induce searing pain, reports Mark Magnier. In fact, some local farmers recommend planting the pepper around their fields to keep away marauding elephants, which turn and run when they catch a whiff.

What most readers might not realize is that the bhut jolokia has made its way to the Southland. As our Marketwatch columnist David Karp reported in January, Butch and Burma Baselice in Santa Paula started growing the pepper for their mail-order business and gave some leftover plants to Santa Monica farmers market grower Phil McGrath, who was selling them at the market.

This year's harvest is not yet ready to harvest, but it's promising that since January there have been no signs of marauding elephants in Santa Monica.


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Photo: Bhut jolokia chile peppers for sale at the Santa Monica Farmers Market in January. Credit: David Karp/For the Times