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The Hottest Curry in the World

Updated on July 17, 2010

Curry is a well-known dish worldwide. It's particularly famous for the heat of the spices used in the curry dish. Jokes abound when someone eats a hot curry, such as telling people to keep a toilet paper roll in the freezer, or to do handstands in the shower. Some of the hottest curries are purported to leave you with a butt like a Japanese flag.

Curry is usually a generic description used in European culture to describe a general variety of spiced dishes, best known in the South Asian cuisines, but especially Indian cuisine. Some distinctive spices used in many curry dishes include turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, chillies and peppers. Despite the blend of spices, it is usually the type of chillies used in preparing the dish that defines how hot the curry will be.

The dish has become so popular in the UK as to often be described as a national dish. The specific curry is the Chicken Tikka Masala, which is often reported as the UK's favorite dish.

But what is the hottest curry in the world?

The Dorset Naga
The Dorset Naga

The hottest chillies in the world

In order to discover the world's hottest curry, we first need to explore the world's hottest chili. In 1912 Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, proposed the Scoville Scale to measure the heat of peppers. A "Scoville Unit" is a measure of the chemical capsaicin in the pepper, which is the culprit responsible for making chillies hot.

Scoville's original test was simply a comparative taste test that is considered subjective and inaccurate by today's standards. A more scientifically proven method is used today, but the unit is still named after Wilbur Scoville.

The hottest pepper on record is a moot point and people all over the world vie for the honor of growing the world's hottest chilli, but the Naga Jolokia, Dorset Naga, or Bhut Jolokia are currently at the top of the scale with claims of up to 1,000,000 Scoville units. By contrast, the more innocent Jalapeno only comes in at 2,500 to 5,000.

India has even deployed the Bhut Jolokia to fight terrorism!

The World's Hottest Curry

Not surprisingly - due to the popularity of curry in that country - the competition for the "World's Hottest Curry" heats up in the UK. There are two major contenders.

Executive chef Vivek Singh at The Cinnamon Club got hold of some of the Dorset Naga chillies to create the Bollywood Burner, a lamb-based dish with a fierce kick.

But then the Rupali Restaurant offers their own "Curry Hell" dish as competition. It even has an endorsement by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, who has claimed it as the hottest curry he's ever tried.

Both curries are so hot that diners are asked to sign a disclaimer or acknowledge a warning confirming they are aware of the risks involved in eating such a hot curry. Rupali is so confident in their "Curry Hell" that they will give you the meal free if you finish it, accompanied by a certificate of achievement.

Curry Hell

Bollywood Burner

Dealing with Chilli Burn

Capsaicin - the chemical that gives chillies their heat - is stubborn and care should be taken when working with chillies. Preferably wear gloves and don't get it anywhere near your eyes or other sensitive areas.

When eating chilli, water and/or beer doesn't help at all. You should follow the example of the nation that eats more chillies than most - India. In India most hot meals are accompanied with a "raita" - a natural yoghurt-based dish. Dairy products like milk and yoghurt alleviate the burn somewhat, but the most effective treatment is, of course, abstinence. 

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