The Fatalii pepper is hot but not “fatal” like its name might seem to imply. It is a variety of the species capsicum chinense, which is also a potentially misleading name. It does not grow in China but is, instead, native to central and southern Africa.
Within the same general scientific group as the Fatalii, we find member peppers like the Habanero. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that this pepper is extraordinarily hot. It is listed by the Scoville Food Institute as the seventh-hottest pepper on earth and ranges in Scoville units from 125,000 to 500,000. The exact level of heat will depend on the particular pepper and how, when, and where it is cultivated. These peppers do, however, generally light a flame in your mouth that is of comparable intensity to that lit by its Habanero cousin.
The Fatalii pepper plant will usually grow between two and three feet tall. The peppers themselves average around an inch wide and three inches long. The shape is a little pointy at the tip, but broadens out in the mid-section. The coloration begins as a light green but then deepens into a bright yellow by the time the pepper is fully matured and ready for picking. Red Fatalii peppers do exist, but they are a little less common and far less “classic” than the yellow variety.
One important use of this pepper is to make some extra spicy chili powder. Since the Fatalii’s walls are rather thin, it is an easy pepper to dry and grind to powder. A second major cuisine choice that involves the Fatalii is a spicy African version of hot sauce. The Fatalii has a citrus-like flavor that accompanies its heat-producing property. Thus, it is frequently combined with other citrus flavors like lime and lemon when making hot sauce out of it. The result is quite tasty indeed.
Anyone who is familiar with the Habanero and loves to create spicy salsa should see if they can get their hands on a Fatalii. Its unique flavor adds interest to the fire-pepper experience, and its African origin means that you get a taste of the culinary traditions of another place and culture. The Fatalii is a truly remarkable pepper that will make your mouth water even as it makes your taste buds dance.
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Photo Credit: Steelerdon via Wikimedia Commons