In 2001, Dr. Paul Bosland and his team at New Mexico State University discovered the bhut jolokia pepper, also known as the ghost pepper, in India. It’s considered the hottest pepper in the world. Why is it called the ghost pepper? Bosland said, "I think it's because the chile is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it!"
Whether you’re the type of seasoned spice-adventurer that seeks out the ghost pepper or you just enjoy a little kick to your food, we have the list for you. You’ll notice that many countries that love spicy food have warmer climates. According to research conducted at Cornell University, one reason for this is that spicy food helps fight off food-spoilage microorganisms and foodborne bacteria. In warmer climates, especially before refrigeration, foodborne bacteria were far more likely to thrive than in cooler climates. Another reason: Counterintuitively, eating spicy foods cools your body down, or at least makes it feel cooler; spice induces sweating, and as the sweat evaporates, your skin cools. It doesn’t hurt that chiles are an endorphin-boosting aphrodisiac, either.
To compile this list of some of the spiciest countries around the globe, we consulted our previous list of the world’s spiciest dishes that are worth the heartburn, checked out existing lists of the spiciest cuisines around the world, and researched international dishes where chiles are a key ingredient.
Here are 15 of the world’s spiciest countries, along with which dishes to seek out once you get there.
Additional reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani.