Let’s Spice Up Romeo and Julieta
Bhut Jolokia Jam
Guava, sugar, jaggery, Bhut (Ghost) pepper, lemon juice
Cured meat, white or aged cheese
In Brazil, the combination of white cheese with sweet guava is called Romeo and Juliet, referencing Shakespeare’s romance between two inseparable souls. This is fair. Sweet goes very well on white cheese. With an aged cheese, however, adding spiciness makes things even more interesting. And that’s what this jam is about: the possibility of adding spice, literally, to an old classic. At first you will sense the sweetness. But as this jam travels towards the back of your tongue the heat will start to sneak up on you, like ghost. Besides cheese, it pairs well with cured meats, especially pork such as pancetta.
We pepper addicts are always looking for something stronger. That very spicy flavor that makes our bodies feel like they are burning. After going through Habanero, Malagueta and other peppers, I felt like it was time to go for something higher on the Scoville Scale. I picked Bhut Jolokia, which is considered one of the spiciest peppers in the world. Also, it is originally from the Indian Subcontinent, a part of the world I’m very fond of. I chose guava as the base fruit since we didn’t yet have any guava jam and it is an ingredient available all year long in Brazil. Fortunately, I have a partner, Joenilma, who loves peppers even more than I do. She is my official test taster when developing pepper jams. First trial batch? Not strong enough. I doubled the quantity of pepper, adjusted the sugar, added jaggery to deepen the flavor… yes, just thinking of it makes my gut crave for this burning jam.
Bhut Jolokia is regarded as the second or third spiciest pepper known to date, ranging from 280,000 to 1,500,000 points in Scoville Scale. The word bhut means ghost, so this pepper is also known as Ghost pepper. It grows on the Indian Subcontinent.
Guavas are thought to be native to Central America or Mexico. From there, they have spread throughout the tropics worldwide. Brazil the largest grower of guavas worldwide and Minas Gerais, the fifth state in terms of planted area. It is consumed fresh or used as an ingredients in preserves, jams, juices and sweets.