The ‘Charapita’ or ‘Aji Charapa’ comes from the northern region of the jungles of Peru. It originates from a city named Iquitos, and the people there are called ‘charapas’, which is a slang term describing the people’s laid back mentality. Aji Charapa has been grown in the region in the local’s personal gardens and in the wild in the area as well.
The Aji Charapa pods average between 5-8 mm in diameter once they mature, have a very thin skin, and kind either be a red or yellow color, although yellow is more prevalent. The pepper is very juicy with a cluster of seeds in the middle.
Originating from the northern region of the Peruvian jungle, the English name is the Wild Peruvian Chili Pepper. It is a very hot pepper and not grown commercially. It is mostly harvested from wild plants or grown in back yards. The word ‘Aji’ is a word that was brought over to Peru from the Incans in Spain, and literally means pepper. Another name for the pepper besides Aji Charapa, Charapita, or Wild Peruvian Chili Pepper, is the Lost Incan Pepper.
Taste and Smell
With a very thin skin, the Aji Charapita is surprisingly firm and crunchy with a cluster of seeds in the middle. Both the taste and the smell are reminiscent of fresher habanero.
The only use noted for these Peruvian peppers is for adding some kick to salsa, salads, and whatever else you can dream up. You can of course eat them straight, just be prepared to fell quite the burn. The pepper seems to be growing in micro-brewery use as well.
Although the commercial production has just recently started to introduce the pepper and it was mostly only grown in the northern region of the Peruvian jungle, Aji Charapa is actually pretty basic to cultivate. Basic soil and basic care throughout the year is enough to bring the pepper to maturity.
Formerly a rarity, the Aji Charapa is now seeing some influx due to commercial production. People are starting to use it in everything from chili to beer, and with the simplicity of growing your own, should become more abundant in the near future. One suggestion is to squeeze the pepper with a fork to get the juice out onto your dish for some added spice, but if you’re not timid, go ahead and eat it raw.
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Photo Credit: Provecho Peru