Naga Morich Chili
Naga Morich, the “snake chili” is related to the Jolokia chili varieties (Bih, Bhut, Naga). Their pods and degree of sharpness are remarkably similar. On the Scoville scale, these chillies reach about 1,087,000 SHU.
In the English county of Dorset, Michael and Joy Michaud had the brilliant idea to start “Pepper by Post”. Around 1990 the two studied agronomists got seeds of the Naga Morich and continued to breed this chili variety. At that time their chili peppers were very different in colour, shape and sharpness. This is how the more stable Dorset Naga came into being, which today is called Naga Morich in the same breath as the Naga Morich.
Naga Morich originally comes from Bangladesh. Because of its martial name we prefer Nagas to the Bhut Jolokia in cultivation. In general, Bih Jolokias are comparable with the Dorset or Naga Morich.
As with most extremely hot chillies, their surface is scarred, indicating a particular mutation. In these fruits, capsaicin is not only produced by glands on the placenta, but also by the skin on the inside of the fruit.
This variety grows bushy and reaches a moderate size. Its green, heart-shaped leaves make these chili plants a feast for the eyes.
When later its 5 cm long, egg-shaped and pointed fruits are ripe red, this plant is the star in the bed.
Naga Morich plants are nightshade plants and belong to the species of Capsicum chinense. Only this genus is represented among the top ten hottest chillies in the world.
Its area of origin is the Amazon basin in present-day Brazil. Both for the distribution of the seeds by birds and for protection against fungal diseases, chilli plants produce the pungent capsaicin. Birds do not feel the burning when eating like humans do other animals. The seeds pass undamaged through the birds’ stomachs and are deposited at the next opportunity, for example on an island.
Through this variant of distribution by birds (ornithological theory) chillies were distributed in the warm climate zones of the American continent. Capsicum chinense have an advantage in the humid, warm regions because of their high degree of sharpness.
It was not until Christophorus Columbus brought Capsicum seeds to Europe that their worldwide distribution followed at breakneck speed. Since botanists often saw Capsicum chinense plants in China, they believed their origin was there. Today everyone knows that until 1492, chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and pumpkin were only found in the New World.
Naga Morich comes from northeastern India and Bangladesh. There you can find grandiose tea cultivation areas near Assam. The climate there is hot with high humidity.
The pungency of chillies fluctuated considerably in the first years after it became known. Some pods reached “only” 800.000 Scoville, others scratched the million mark. When their capsaicinoid content was determined in 2005 using an HPLC instrument, their average result was 923,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). If there is a lot of sunshine, the fruits, which have since been further cultivated, will be in the range of one million SHU. This corresponds to a sharpness level of 10+++.
Fresh Naga Morich chillies find their destiny in a spicy competition. Whoever manages to chew these pods comfortably, can be celebrated without shame. The winner will have a red head anyway from the spiciness of the extremely hot chilies.
For untrained spicy eaters this chili is nothing. An inexperienced chili chef once smiled at my Naga chili pepper. Shortly afterwards he had unnaturally swollen lips. He kept hitting his bald head because it was feared that his skullcap would fly off. So I was told in tears by family members of the Sharpness victim who were present.
Products made with Naga Morich chilies can be counted on one hand. However, there are sauces and chili pastes among them.
Their sharpness level can be classified in the upper part of the sharpness scale. We ourselves process the pretty chillies, which we do not use fresh, into chilli powder.
First put on gloves when processing the biting berries. Wash and cut the nagas. Scrape out the light red partitions including the seeds. After that, you go into the dehydrator for about 10 hours. The chillies have firm flesh, of a noticeable thickness. It therefore takes a little longer than with thin-walled chillies such as the Cayenne.
After drying, it goes to an electric coffee grinder, where the dried pods are ground into powder. After grinding, we fill the machine with salt and give a few pulses. The salt makes the chili mill easy to clean. It also allows you to increase the supply of chilli salt.
Do not be afraid to wear a mouthguard and goggles. This only shows your caution and helps to avoid brutal pain if you get chili in your eye or even inhale it.
The plants of this type of chili usually grow to a height of about 80 cm. They look extremely fine when fresh green plants carry red chillies. Although it has a bushy growth, it remains compact in width. As pot size we use a bucket with a capacity of 5 to 8 litres. This will then have a diameter of about 26 cm.
Chili plants need a lot of sun, warmth and humidity. Especially Capsicum chinense varieties like our Naga Morich. High beds are recommended because they store a lot of heat. A small pond or rain barrel nearby helps to keep the air humidity high.
An ideal location for this chili variety, as well as its close relative Bhut Jolokia, is a greenhouse. Here the climate is even better adapted to the needs of the chili plant than in the garden or balcony.
Perhaps you will also create a herb spiral and crown it with a great chili plant.
Herbal spirals also have a sophisticated eco-system to enable high yields in a small space.
As a substrate, high bedding soil or tomato soil with a pH value of about 6.5 is recommended.
It will take about five months from cultivation to flowering. After another three months from flowering, the green fruits will start to turn red. In total, you should allow for a growth period of 8 months.
Cultivation and cultivation
If your chili plant needs eight to nine months from sowing to harvest, you should start growing it indoors as early as January.
A heated mini-greenhouse with 27 °C and a high air humidity provides a good germination climate. After you have soaked your Naga Morich chilli seeds in water or camomile tea, they are transferred to a suitable growing substrate. We have not yet found anything simpler than coconut swelling tabs for preferring chili seeds.
Only when we plant masses of chili seeds do we use growing soil. In this case the best seedlings are later pricked. The morich seedlings together with coconut source pots are later transferred into larger pots. A suitable soil for germination is low in nutrients.
We only start fertilizing when real leaves develop next to the cotyledons. For this plant we like to use guano fertilizer.
Naga Morich plants seem to like it. Of course you can also use tomatoes or vegetable fertilizer. Just keep an eye on the pH-value, which has its perfect value for this plant at 6.5 - 6.8.
If you have read other variety descriptions of chilies, you will already know it: No wet feet. Chillies shrink less when the soil is too dry than when it is too wet Check the soil moisture with your index finger before each watering. Here you can read more about the correct watering of chilli plants.
Pay attention to pest infestation, heat, light and lime-poor water, so you can expect a sharp harvest.
When your green Naga Morich ripens to red, leave it on the plant for a few days. Just at the end the aromas and sweetness are formed. Wear gloves when harvesting to protect yourself from the high capsaicin content. You can also impress your neighbours with a white protective suit and face mask.
You should bring this perennial chili variety into your home at the end of September, beginning of October. At temperatures below 24 °C, this chili rarely feels like forming new leaves. Night temperatures below 18 °Celsius will not tolerate them for long without damage. In a separate article we have summarized important information about wintering. Do not make the same beginner’s mistakes as we did years ago and bring in chillies without proper preparation.
|Variety name||Naga Morich|
|Plant size||60 - 90 cm|
|Maturing time||95 days|
|Germination period||8 - 14 days|
|Germination temperature||25 - 28 °C|
|Planting distance about||60 cm|