Chillies of the Caribbean

Chillies of the Caribbean

Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know

Part 20

Chillies of the Caribbean

Those that know me, know that I have a real leaning towards Caribbean cuisines in my style of cooking. And as expected that goes as far as my preference towards Chillies, I like their heat, the almost fruity flavour and the distinct aroma when cooking them. My Restaurant specialised in Caribbean Cuisine.. As does Our company Shashemane Exotic Spices and Crucial Sauces ..

So I’d like to introduce you to the Caribbean connection, within the Chilli family.


The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

The Moruga Scorpion is indigenous to the Moruga region of Trinidad and Tobago. Aside from the heat, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion has a tender fruit-like flavour, which makes it a sweet-hot combination. The chilli can be grown from seeds in most parts of the world. only 2-3 inches in length and ½-1 inch in width. Though their exterior colour can be varying combinations of red, orange and green they are most often picked and at their hottest when they are a vibrant red. Their skin is shiny and smooth, with slight wrinkling and indented grooves that run along the length of the chilli. The tip of the chilli curves and comes to a small point, a signature characteristic of the Scorpion chilli and the reason behind its name.

Once you take a bite of this deceiving chilli the heat never stops building. This Moruga Scorpion may be  lacking the Reaper’s stinger, but don’t let that fool you. The Moruga Scorpion is every bit as hot as The Carolina Reaper. Trinidad Scorpion averaged at 1.2 million Scovilles.

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is a non-hybrid, stable variety. Therefore, it produces more quantity and grows more easily than chillies like the Butch T.. Although only the brave are willing to actually eat a whole pod, and I for one aren’t that stupid, the Moruga Scorpion has a great flavour that, if used in smaller amounts, and does make deliciously addictive barbeque sauces and Chilli sauce, like my Trinidad Soucouyant Bite.


The 7 Pot Douglah

7 Pot Douglah

The 7 Pot Douglah is a chilli that originates from Trinidad.  It is traditionally a brown colour although some people are growing the red douglah variety. The flavour of the Douglah is sweet, which adds a lot of flavour to tropical dishes. Since it is so hot, you don’t need to add a lot of this chilli to the recipes you are cooking. Which means it can make more flavourful food with very little amounts of the Chilli.

The Scoville Heat Units rates the 7 Pot Douglah as the third hottest chilli in the world, rating it at almost 2 million SHU. The ratings vary from a 1.8 million SHU to 1.9 million SHU. Those ratings have changed from year to year and they appear to rate hotter and hotter each year.

Don’t be surprised if the Douglah chilli don’t look like regular chillies. No two Chillies look alike. The oils are very strong and can cut through the average plastic gloves. It is very important to use caution if you have never worked with a Douglah before. Yes, we can watch the pain people have when they eat hot chillies but if you show, the Douglah the respect it deserves you can gain a lot of flavour to your dishes that you use the Douglah in.


The Scotch Bonnet

Scotch Bonnet

The Scotch bonnet is the Chilli of choice in the Caribbean, and personally my favourite . It’s the most widely used Chilli in the region’s cuisine. Other hot Chillies, such as Wiri Wiri, Bahamian Bird Chillies, Habanero and Pimento chillies, are readily available and used in various recipes, and Indian chillies can be found in most markets. But when you talk to Caribbean people about hot Chillies used in the Caribbean, particularly in the English-speaking Caribbean, they’re almost always refer to the Scotch Bonnet.

Scotch Bonnets got their name due to their appearance. They grow in an odd, flattened shape that resembles a tam or “Scotsman’s bonnet.” Depending on what part of the Caribbean you’re visiting, these Chillies are also called “Bahama mamas” or “Jamaican hots.” The Bonnet connection can be a little off with some species of this Chilli because they grow longer with less of a squashed appearance in some areas.

Scotch Bonnets are hot Chillies, in fact very hot, but they have an almost sweet, vaguely tropical fruity taste underlying the heat. This varies from region to region, however, because it depends on the soil conditions to an extent in which they’re grown.

Scotch Bonnet are used to make the famous Caribbean or West Indian Chilli sauces.

Chilli sauce is traditionally used as a condiment in the Caribbean, as well as to season meat, fish, and poultry. The Scotch Bonnet is also used whole to impart flavour without the full impact of its heat. In Trinidad, it’s simply chopped and added to the food in the early stages of cooking.

The Scotch Bonnet ranks side-by-side with the habanero on the heat scale. In fact, it’s a close relative of the habanero. It’s considered spicier than the comparatively mild jalapeno.


The Habanero


As a member of the chinense species, the history of the habanero dates back to 6,500 B.C.  An intact chinense pod was found in Preceramic levels in Guitarrero Cave in Peru, indicating that it was 8500 years old. The species is thought to have originated in the Amazon basin and was gradually domesticated over many millennia, as locals learned to farm and grow plants. They could then use human selection to breed larger and stronger versions, and by about 1000 B.C., many chinense varieties were domesticated and spread throughout South and Central America, and the Caribbean. After Columbus reached the Caribbean Islands in 1492, he brought back many varieties to the Portuguese, who then spread them to Africa.

The Habanero itself is thought to have originated in Cuba, as it is named after the Cuban city of La Habana, known English speak countries as Havana, because it used to feature in heavy trading there.  It is related to the Scotch Bonnet chilli, they have somewhat different pod types but are varieties of the same species and have similar heat levels.

The Habanero pepper grows mainly on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where it is now thought to have originated, though it also grows in other hot climates including in Belize, in Costa Rica, in parts of the United States, and in Panama where it is known as the Aji Chombo.

Once the Spanish had discovered it, they spread it far and wide around the world, so much so that taxonomists in the 18th century thought it originated in China and therefore named it “Capsicum chinense” or the “Chinese Chilli.”  If anything, the Habanero’s popularity is even more on the rise today.

The notorious & viciously hot Chocolate Habanero ranks among the deadly few at the top of the heat scale registering up to 450,000 scoville heat units. The Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University reported that the Chocolate Habanero Chilli was the hottest chilli they had tested. Also known as the ‘Congo black’ the fruits have a unique, rich flavour unduplicated by any other Chilli. The 5 cm fruits ripen from an emerald green to a gorgeous, chocolate brown approximately 100 days after transplanting. It is ultimate salsa Chilli used to make the famous Jamaican Jerk Sauce. This variety is a must for heat lovers..


Antillais Caribbean

Antillais Caribbean

Antillais Caribbean Chilli comes from the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean., Caribbean Antillais Chilli pods are very pungent & aromatic and are great to cook with. Caribbean Antillais produces lovely red oblong shaped chillies that are 3 cm wide by 6 cm long and wrinkled. The pods are very pungent & aromatic and are great to cook with. Caribbean Antillais pods mature from a lovely light lime green through orange to bright red on a plant that reaches between 70-90 cm tall.

It is actually a rare Habanero type Chilli thought to originate from the Yucatan peninsular, Mexico. The plants grow very bushy. Each plant produces around 20 very hot wrinkled pods (larger than a Scotch Bonnet) mature from lime green through to orange and then to bright red. Very aromatic and a Pyro-gourmaniacs culinary delight. If you like your food on fire, these pods can reach an eye-watering heat level of between 250,000 – 300,000 SHU. Typical is their extremely fruity aroma, so that many chilli varieties can‘t easily compare with the Habanero.


Bahamian Bird Chillies

Bahamian Bird Chillies

The Bahamian Bird Chilli was discovered on the Bahamas near the entrance of a small cave. This hot Chilli is very similar to the Tabasco pepper, but has a little sweeter taste. The bushy plant is about 60 cm high and is also very suitable for pots. It is a productive plant. The pods turn from green to orange and finish red during ripening. The pods are about 3-4 cm long and about 0.5 to 1 cm in diameter. Bahamians are usually round or oblong shaped. Native to the Bahamas, the Bahamian Bird Chillies is a type of chilli that is commonly used as a seasoning. They vary in colour, appearing in yellow, orange, green, and red with a glossy skin. This species of Chilli grows upright instead of in a downward hanging position. They have an exotic spicy flavour and are rather hot. This Chilli is so attractive it can stand on it’s own as an ornamental potted plant or garden accent. Excellent for flavouring a variety of dishes. Great for adding a zesty kick to homemade salsa or chilli.


Bahamian Goat Chilli

Bahamian Goat Chilli

Like its cousins the Habanero and the Scotch Bonnet, the Bahamian Goat Chilli kicks hard, but with a sweetness to its flesh that works well with tropical hot sauces and meals. It’s very popular in its native Bahamas, but a lot trickier to find outside of the Caribbean.

The name “goat” Chilli is said to come from the fact that it has a spicy kick ,it kicks as hard as a goat. Others say it’s due to the smell these chillies have when cut open, claiming it has the odour of a goat. While others say it’s due to the fact that Bahamian Goat Chilli typically grow in the Bahamas around areas where goats forage.

The Bahamian Goat Chilli is a little bit of a Scoville unit mystery.  Some claim its range is the same as its Habanero and Scotch Bonnet relatives (100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units). Others say that its bottom range never goes so low, stopping at 250,000 SHU. Still others swear the scorching hot heat from this peach of a chilli kicks in at near 600,000 SHU, which is very similar heat to a Red Savina or Chocolate Habanero

Typically the Bahamian Goat Chilli is 5 cm in length, slightly squashed like the Scotch bonnet, and peach in colour. They sometimes have a small scorpion tail, like the super-hot Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, but often it is simply bulbous at the bottom. Due to the colour and roundness, some people see a miniature pumpkin shape when they look at the Bahamian Goat Chilli. And that’s not surprising since, depending on the crop and the light, the Bahamian Goat Chilli can appear yellow or even orange. They are as sweeter than the Scotch Bonnet, having a very tropical taste. Bahamian Goat Chilli are also delicious used in tropical dishes, like jerk chicken and pork. The sweetness works very well with the sauce. Really, anywhere where you’d use a Habanero or especially a Scotch Bonnet , you can substitute in a Bahamian Goat Chilli.


Madame Jeanette

Madame Jeanette

The Madame Jeanette Pepper hails from Suriname. They were recognized as part of the same family as the Scotch Bonnet along with other mixture of chillies that belong within the same Capsicum chinense category like the Habanero. If you like hot Chillies, you will love Madame Jeanette Chili, because they are one hot mutha of a Chilli . The Madame Jeanette has a heat rating of 125,000 – 325,000 SHU.

Originally Named after a notorious prostitute from Brazil, the Madame Jeanette has a curvy shape, similar to a bell pepper, and the colours run from yellow to reddish-yellow as the Chilli ripens. Used in almost all facets of Surinam cuisine, Madame Jeanette peppers are very versatile. These colourful chillies will flourish whether grown indoors or outdoors, in a vegetable garden, or in pots.

Because of its tropical nature, the Madame Jeanette Chilli will not flourish properly in cooler climates, due to its tropical nature.The best place to grow it, if you’re not in a tropical climate, is inside your home. They are easy to grow if placed in the precise temperature. The size of the pepper is ordinarily small, approximately about. 6 cm long by 2 ½ cm wide pods. You should be able to start gathering the pods in about 3 to 4 months.

Madame Jeanette chillies normally are tasteless if eaten raw and uncooked. To get the most out of the Chilli cook it whole when using it in dishes like chilli, tomato chutney, enchiladas, Mexican dishes as well as most savoury dishes . You can even make sauces with the Madame Jeanette Chilli, it will make your mouth feel tingly and your taste buds satisfied. You can smell the marvellous and stunning aroma that has been unleashed as your delicious meal comes together.

If you are a person that is really into hot foods, you and your family will definitely like the Madame Jeanette Chilli in your favourite savory dishes.