Sikkim has built up a rather formidable reputation for its superior organic farming methods and perhaps, this is the reason why the quality of indigenous vegetables, spices and fruits are undisputedly the best. One of the most famous produce of Sikkim is Dalle Khursani. Dalle Khursani is a red hot cherry pepper grown widely in Sikkim and regions of Darjeeling. Considered to be one of the hottest chillies in the world, Dalle Khursani certainly lives up to its name and fame and is not for the faint-hearted!
Dalle Khursani belongs to the family of Solanaceae and genus Capsicum that is noted for its unique and high pungency. Locals say that the plants grow up to a height of around 100 – 130 cm in an open field and around 150 – 180 cm in greenhouse conditions. These round cherry-sized chillies turn into a bright red when ripe.
Official records say that Sikkim produced around 250 tons of Dalle Khursani last year alone with around 60 percent of the produce sold in the state and the remaining sold in the Northeast and North Bengal. Local farmers and authorities expect production to substantially increase in the coming years with added interest in the medicinal and taste values of the chilli.
This chilli of extreme heat was granted the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2020 for its distinctive pungency, flavour and hotness much to the delight of the farmers and tourists who visit from nearby states to experience this fire burst in their mouth. According to the Scoville Heat Unit, Dalle Khursani has a range of 1,00,000 to 3,50,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) which is considered to be extremely high.
Locals use this pepper to prepare pickles and pastes but more often than not, the famous chilli sauce that is an accompaniment for the local delicacy – momos. Dalle Khursani is packed with medicinal properties and used in the preparation of indigenous medicines. It is rich in Vitamin A, E, C and Potassium and has low Sodium content.
The price of Dalle Khursani is at a staggering Rs 480 per kilogram at the moment and only expected to rise as the days go by. The timely intervention by the Government to provide good quality seeds, nutrients and facilitate organic farming techniques will go a long way in increasing the production of Dalle Khursani.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)