Monthly Archives: March 2016

Playing with Fire? The Bhut Sauce of Naga Bhut Spices


Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

It goes by several names. Naga Jolokia. Naga Bhut Jolokia.  Bhut Jolokia.  Ghost chili, or ghost pepper (bhut=ghost and jolokia=pepper in Hindi).   This naughty little pepper is unmistakable for its infamous atomic sting.  For some years, the ghost pepper was certified as the hottest one in the world, registering in at over a whopping 1 million Scoville Units (or about 400 times the heat of say, Tabasco).   Appropriately, the ghost pepper originated from the plains and hills of Northeast Indian states such as Nagaland and Assam, but received a global reputation and following for its heat index and unique flavor.  Two New Yorkers, Satish Sehgal and Jeff Blaine, decided to partner up and grow, bottle, and sell this fire with their own twist.

It all started in 2010, when Blaine and Sehgal obtained their first set of ghost pepper seeds and began cultivating pepper plants in Blaine’s Upper West Side apartment, which received some media attention.  Sehgal, a successful restauranteur, had experience creating Western-style hot sauce recipes, one version of which became the base for the first original “bhut sauce” after some mutual experimenting in the kitchen.  These kitchen sessions were both delicious and dangerous- both men, no strangers to intense and spicy flavors, will never forget some of the burning sensations in their mouths, on their skins, and- most interesting of all, the overnight hallucinatory effects from what can only be described as the ghost’s whisper.  They were careful to use protective wear and thoroughly wash their hands, but all it takes is a tiny drop landing in the wrong place to cause a physiological (or psychosomatic) reaction.  I have experienced all of these effects as somewhat of a heat-seeker myself.

As the initial recipe was perfected and the micro-batches became larger, they approached restaurants and stores with their original bhut sauce.  One of the adopters is Han Dynasty, an excellent Szechuan Chinese restaurant chain that originated in Philadelphia, and has branches in the East Village and Upper West Side.  The Szechuan region of China is indisputably home to the spiciest cuisine in that country, with tongue-tickling  special peppercorns and red-hot chilis.  I met Blaine at the UWS Han Dynasty branch for a tasting of the Naga Bhut Spices hot sauce line- which has now expanded to 7 unique products.  Cold beer followed, to sooth the substantial burn. Read the rest of this entry

Indian Women Aim for the Skies and Shatter Barriers!


What a Great Crew!  pic courtesy Air India

Those of us who have met women from India know that they are capable of accomplishing anything.  This week was simply further proof of that, as the world witnessed the toppling of barriers for International Women’s Day and the start of Women’s History Month.

Air India on March 8 executed an extraordinary and unprecedented feat: completing the longest possible commercial flight, a 17-hour jaunt from New Delhi to San Francisco with an all-female crew in the air and on the ground, encompassing the pilots and cabin crew all the way to the check-in staff and baggage handlers.  This is a new record in the aviation industry, and one that women (and men) everywhere can be proud of regardless of background.

This great news was followed by another aerospace-oriented announcement of a more martial kind.  The Indian Air Force (IAF), for the first time, is inducting female fighter pilots into action this June as part of the next fighter pilot class.  Until now, female IAF pilots were relegated to other roles such as helming helicopters and cargo planes.  But Bhuwana Kanth, Mohana Singh, and Avani Chaturvedi will be the first to shatter this glass ceiling on their way to the sky.

“They will be treated as fighter pilots rather than women pilots,” air chief marshal Arup Raha told NDTV.


These Fly Ladies are Fly (pic courtesy NDTV)

Congratulations are in order to Air India and the Indian Air Force, two government organizations that have seen their fair share of problems lately, but who are flying in the right direction this week.

And the nation of India, which the world has come to know as a sweltering hotbed of battered and gang-raped women preyed upon daily by disgusting men in a culture run amok, has made a few baby steps toward becoming a civilized global power.  There is still a very long way to go- but also hope.

Kudos are most of all in order to the ladies who are paving the way for future generations to aim for nothing less than the sky.  I have perhaps become as emotional writing this piece as any in the last 3 years.  We are humbled and inspired, and have some hope for the future now in an environment of seemingly endless bad news.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor


VIDEOS: Donald Trump Profusely Praises India (and then Rips India)


Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

We recently published a piece about the ups and downs with Donald Trump’s projects in India.  In 2014, he gave an interview in India with NDTV which is actually quite interesting and even intelligent.  Trump praises India, the Indian people, and Prime Minister Modi profusely and disarmingly graciously.   He says things like “India is an amazing place,” and “I don’t think India is an emerging market, it’s an amazing market,” and “a tremendous flock of new entrepreneurs are coming up in India.”

As an Indian-American, it’s disarming to see.   I could understand why there is a new group called Indian-Americans for Trump and another called Hindus4Trump who are backing his presidential candidacy.  Indians hump cash and luxury like nobody else I have ever seen in my life.

But then, typical for Mr. Trump, he has flipped sides and taken to criticizing India for taking away American jobs recently on the stump or in debates, including that “India is taking advantage of America.”


Hard to say where this guy stands on anything at all.  That’s why we endorsed Trump recently.  We hope he wins the Republican nomination!  So do the people at Hindus4Trump who made this bizarre graphic.  Lord Vishnu save us!











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