Archive for chillies


Posted in Food History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2009 by ashthefoodie
The Land of tea

The Land of tea

When I first compiled this article, I wasn’t fully satisfied as every time I taste food I discover something new. Assam (one of the states in North East India) has always been close to my heart and I wrote a small article on what I knew of Assamese cuisine and I thought I knew a lot-no sir no-that was not enough. So I probed further-cooked, experimented, read and seeked. Today, I sit to pen down all that I know and my experiences with Assamese cuisine and I feel that this still is just a drop in the vast Brahmaputra ( the world’s third largest river and at some places in Assam it has a vast expanse of almost 15 kms.)

Well, to begin with, I needed a bit of help. Asked a very dear friend to identify a few green leaves which were not laai, lofa, paleng, dhoniya, podina, matikanduri, maanimuni, dhekia, durun, khutora, narasingha, xoroyoh, jilmil and kosu( these are Assamese names of the various popular green leafy vegetables). And guess what. She wanted to give me ‘authentic’ information. Hence called up her mom who sat with her grandmother on speaker phone to go really really deep. To the days when Assamese people actually used to have a hundred and one green leaves on the eve of Bohag Bihu( festival of spring or new life). Cutting things short (phew!), let me name some of the greens viz., modhusaleng, rohbaghini, bonjaluk, xukoloti, pipoli, titabahok, borkosu, xetbhedali, bhumloti, xewali, keturihalodhi, mermerilota, tongloti, ghilalota, tengamora, long pasoli, brahmi, kolmou, xuka puroi, monua, masandari, ponounua amongst several others. This is Assamese food…rustic, healthy, bland yet hot occasionally. Ummm…the mouthwatering kosu xaak aka colacacia leaves with lots of black pepper leaves your nose drained, yet enriches you with a marvelous experience! If I consider the banana plantain to be one of the greens, then its stem known as posola is the next delicacy I have to mention.

 Though we cannot categorize the Assamese people as carnivorous, but they have their share of flesh for every special occasion be it a duck roast, goose curry, pigeon meat, pork with spinach leaves and bamboo shoot or other ‘lesser’ meats like chicken! Duck and goose are best cooked with kumura or the ash gourd. Also used is posola-the body of the banana plantain, as I mentioned earlier. For the inquisitive readers, it will be rather interesting to know that not a single part of the banana plant goes waste in an Assamese kitchen. While the fruit, flower (koldil), and stem are edible, meals are served on banana leaves. But hold on, there’s more. The sheath of the plant known as kolpotuwa is used for making bowls like doog, dona or khool for serving jolpan (a breakfast preparation), particularly during auspicious occasions and religious ceremonies. Kaanh or brass utensils are commonly used in Assamese households.

Kaanh or brass utensils are intrinsic to Assamese households

Kaanh or brass utensils are intrinsic to Assamese households

A jolpan usually consists of various forms of rice like chira (flattened rice)/kumol saaul (a softened rice form prepared by grains soaked and then mildly cooked) /bhoja saaul (rice prepared from roasting the grains) /bora saaul (sticky rice) /pithaguri (rice powder prepared from unroasted grains)/xandoh guri (rice powder prepared from roasted grains roughly ground)/korai guri (rice powder prepared from roasted grains finely ground)/ doi i.e. curd, and jaggeri. Till a decade back, grains were pounded on a dheki (a traditional pounding contraption operated manually with feet). However, with passing time or timelessness mills have started replacing this system in case of mass production.

 *Saaul : Rice      *Guri: Powder 

Coming back to bananas (See, it is very easy to get lost while writing about food), the banana peel is dried and burnt; the ash mixed in water and the extract results in kol khar -the indigenous tenderizing agent. The modhuna or root of the plantain is also used to prepare khar. I think am already going bananas! In fact Khaar is so much an integral part of Assamese cuisine that many people use khaar khuwa (khaar eaters) as a slang to describe people from Assam. I think it is a beautiful terminology and hardly derogatory.Rice prepared in banana leaves in Singphu dhaba near MargheritaNow, there is another term that the Assamese use for themselves i.e. bhotuwa, a term that can be traced to the word bhaat which means cooked rice. It does not need rocket science to understand that rice is the staple food of Assam, and is best relished as plain steamed. However  the flavour of the rice depends on the kind of utensil and fire used, . There is a form of preparation of rice called sunga saaul (sunga meaning an elongated hollow particularly bamboo in this case). Rice is put in a hollow bamboo with water and sealed with banana leaves and then put into charcoal fire. People normally use sticky rice for such preparations.Can you imagine the  aroma that prevails?  There is another interesting form of consuming rice and is called pointa bhaat. Leftover rice is soaked in cold water and is kept for one or two nights. The rice starts fermenting and depending on the number of days, can give you the perfect punch (wink. hic hic hic). 

Talking of Assamese food and not mentioning fish is like commiting hara-kiri or suicide. The blessed land that Assam is, the Brahmaputra and its tributaries and various other fresh water resources like the pond(Pukhuri) at your backyard, the paddy fields, the streams and springs are endowed with various kinds of delicious fish. Small, medium, big…all sizes and shapes are available. Small fish like donikona, puthi, bheseli, randhoni, kholihona, misa etc., medium sized fish like goroi, magur, kawoi, muwa, pabho, bato, tura, botiya, neriya and bigger ones like rou, borali, xitol, khoriya, sengeli etc. just tickle your taste buds with their umpteen flavours. Maas, as the natives call it are caught on jaakoi (straining contraption made of bamboo used in ponds and paddy fields), thuha, khuka, sepa, (bamboo traps placed in paddy fields), boroxi (fish hook) or zaal (fishing net). Fish is stored in a bamboo container called khaloi and can be hung around your waist while fishing.

Maasor tenga (sour fish curry) is the most popular Assamese fish preparation. Various souring agents like ou tenga, thekera, tenga mora, local tomatoes, lemon etc. are used during the preparation of the jool (thin curry). Minimal spices characterize Assamese cuisine. Use of chillies like khud (pinch)/mem jolokia (referring to the spicey flavour despite its grain size), bhut jolokia (also known as Raja Mircha-world’s hottest chilli). Pepper or jaluk is common be it in fish preparations or duck and geese.
Maasor tenga (sour fish curry): I can in fact see a pice of ou tenga floating

Maasor tenga (sour fish curry): I can in fact see a pice of ou tenga floating

Another form of preparing fish is by wrapping it in banana leaves. Freshly prepared yellow mustard paste with salt is used for marinating the fish. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Naraxinha or curry leaves and podina (mint) paste is also used to marinating and fillings. The preparation is more popularly known as bhapot diya maas (steamed fish)

Fish intestines also known as petu is a delicacy. It is fried with onion, naraxinha leaves and either mixed with a little steamed rice or powdered rice (pithaguri). It is either served after tossing and frying or again wrapped in banana leaf and roasted.

*tenga: Tangy/Any Lemon  *jolokia: Chilli

Khorikat diya maas: fish grilled on bamboo sticks

Khorikat diya maas: fish grilled on bamboo sticks

Apart from curries, fish is relished deep fried and roasted on charcoal fire. Small fish like puthi is roasted and mashed with mustard oil, salt, chopped onions and coriander leaves. The rustic cooking and impeccable raw flavour is simply out of the world! In Assam anything that is mashed is called pitika, the most popular ones being bengena (brinjal) and aloo (potato). All Assamese will swear by it. Potato is popular especially it is customary during Magh Bihu (harvest festival) to have sweet potatoes (mitha aloo, muwa aloo, kath aloo etc.) while the morning meji (a huge customary fire during Magh Bihu) is lit. While I have reached to the point of Bihu, and not mentioning pitha will be criminal. Pithas are traditional rice cakes prepared during the festive season. Both sweet and salty, pithas are dry and either steamed or roasted while others are fried. Jaggery is the most popular sweetener. Til pitha, gheela pitha, xutuli pitha, sunga pitha, tekelir mukhot diya pitha, paat pitha, muthiya pitha, pheni pitha are few that I think of. Til pitha is unique considering the fact that it is dry, has a black sesame and jaggery filling and looks like, ah well, an oversized cigarette. The best way to consume, following the traditional way is by dipping it in  ronga saah (literally red tea but is actually black tea).

*Saah : Tea    *Bhaapot Diya : Steamed   *Bihu: An agro based festival, celebrated three times a year-April, January and October in Assam signifying various stages of agriculture 

While I am still talking about harvest and Magh Bihu-a Bihu that signifies a good harvest and of course is signified by having huge feasts. And the spread, you got me, is what we call a foodies’ delight. You will find all what I have discussed so far, all under one roof on a single day and of course much more. Yes, I am coming towards the ‘meaty’ part of my article.

Gahori: pork

Gahori: pork

I have been mentioning duck and geese quite often in my article, and that’s because hanh (duck) and raaz hanh (geese) are regarded delicacies during special ceremonies. You can say, they are the ‘turkeys of Thanksgiving’.  While local chicken is more popular for day to day use. Gahori manxo or pork is the ‘forbidden’ meat and is nevertheless consumed by various communities and has different styles of preparation. There are some who store the pork in a pit while others cook it dry with crunchy spinach leaves.

Some use bamboo shoot or khorisa and make a curry out of it. The Ahoms have an old saying that if you did not have gahori on Bihu, then you will be born as one in your next birth. Probably it came as a mischievous story told to children in the families by the older ones and the legend spun itself hence forth. Paaro manxo or pigeon meat is also a delicacy. Two preparations are most popular-a dry one with koldil or the banana flower or a jool (curry) with lots of black pepper. Gosh! I am getting hungry by the minute, and I am waiting eagerly for my next golden chance to run to North East as always.
Xewali-the flower and leaf are bitter, but a delicacy nevertheless

Xewali-the flower and leaf are bitter, but a delicacy nevertheless

Assamese are not devoid of other delicacies like crabs, river shrimps, linkori (aquatic black beetle), various flowers like tita phul, xewali, endi and paat leta (silk worm chrysalis). Ahoms and a few other communities have a tradition of consuming eggs of red ants (amlori tup) on Bohag Bihu-the festival of spring. In fact, the eggs from the big nests on mango trees are the best ones and believe  me; the boys in villages have to undergo quite an ordeal with the red ant formic acid bites! But what’s good food without a little adventure? But I hardly see many youngsters enthusiastic enough to go through the same ordeal of celebration these days. Or probably even there are not many forests left to provide such scope. Or for that matter, community feasts have almost become a redundant concept. Some people say that the sense of neighbourhood is gradually extinguishing in Assamese society. It pains deep down within, but then I say that it is probably in for a new evolution. 

*Manxo : Meat   *Leta: Chrysalis

Paan Tamul

Paan Tamul

Have I missed anything? Yes, a lot! I am not yet done with the pickles, tamul (actually tamul-pan; a combination of beetle nut and the leaf) and the legendary xaaz or laupani or the local rice beer. Like all other north eastern states, Assam also has its traditional rice beer. Various communities call it by various names and with slight change in the distillation process; it gives a little variation in the zing. Pithaguti (a cake of several herbs) and rice are the prime components all over. 

Assam is abundant with fruits. guavas, litchies,jolphai(olives), kola and boga jaamu(jamoa), robab tenga(grapefruit),  anaaros(pineapple), kothaal(jackfruit) etc. are few on the tip of my tongue.  A summery afternoon post lunch, just pick a robab tenga, a little salt, fresh green chillies on a banana leaf or kolpaat as they say and have the most orgasmic cytrus pulp on earth. Kothal or jackfruit is eaten raw and ripe both. The seeds of the ripe jackfruit is another delicacy. Dry the surface, peel it, wash it and chuck a few into your daal. Orelse, dry the surface, chuck some into the fire, take them out roll them over the floor (better if it is a clay surface) to remove the peel and consume with a little salt.  What I like most about Assamese cuisine is that nothing goes waste really. I mean look at rongalau or the pumpkin. The peel is turned into a great dry subzi, better still if black pulses are added to it. The seeds are roasted. Leaves are consumed separately.

No, I cannot go on and on and on. I have to bring it to a halt, or else the gigabytes of space on my blog will not suffice to document everything.  It is difficult to cover any cuisine in one article. Especially with a culture which has a varied demography. Assam is partly tribal (hills/plains), partly non tribal, partly Hindu, partly Muslim, Christian and Buddhist. People in Upper Assam and those in lower Assam do not even understand each other’s Assamese dialect forget about the Karbi, Kuki, Mising, Dimasa, Hajong, Bodo, Rabha, Singphu, Deuri and Lalung population. While some parts have a Silhetti influence of cooking, the rest have evolved through variations in terrains and availability of particular items. However despite all differences, the indelible truths that bind them all are the River and the Rice.




Posted in Cuisine and Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2008 by ashthefoodie



Bhutanese family beating rice

Bhutanese family beating rice

We talk about friendly neighbourhoods, and we talk about Bhutan. Resting peacefully in between the Indian states of Sikkim and Assam this Himalayan kingdom is a land of inimitable beauty, serenity and spirituality. Also sharing its international borders with China, Bhutan has been able to preserve its spiritual culture alive till date. The Bhutanese call their country Druk Yul which means “Land of the Thunder Dragon”

Personally speaking, food is a spiritually binding force. And I am sure many spiritualists would think like that.

For instance, Swami Vivekananda-the great philosopher would travel extensively in India to understand its people and what the cause of various sufferings is. He witnessed inequality, poverty and a discomforting disconnect with the core of spirituality, religion and the common people. Well, I am not here to discuss his philosophy today, but an instance. During his travel to Rajasthan, he spent a few days in the railway station where people had started gathering to hear his preaching. People would approach him with a volley of questions on religion and life. After three days and three nights of relentless conversation and advice, there was only one person who approached him with food and water; a low caste shoemaker. While most of the people present there protested this, and asked Swami Vivekananda to not to have food from a low caste person and in fact were rather astonished at his behaviour and approach despite being a religious person. But he went ahead and savoured that simplest of food prepared; needless to say he bonded the best with that shoemaker than innumerable people from the higher castes who had the rigidity of religion but had no idea of liberality of spiritual practice.

And once again it was food that reached the heart.

Yes, we were talking about Bhutan. The land as I said is spiritual with the augmentation and practice of Mahayana Budhhism. In Mahayan Buddhism as opposed to early Budhhism, most scholars believe that nirvana is too narrow an aspiration and that one’s aim should be to attain bodhichitta i.e.; awakened mind both for oneself and for the benefit of all other sentient beings. And one of the primary wheels of knowledge is compassion or karunya.

Bhutan, interestingly is the only country in the world to have adopted Mahayana Buddhism in its tantric form as its official religion. With the practice of Budhhist faith and karunya as a key, the Butanese lead their life with utmost compassion. Naturally, their food also contains the same affection, symplicity and mysticism.

The Bhutanese love to eat and love to feed. I must have been to Bhutan at least seven to eight times, each time hosted by various segments of people including the royalty. They are awsome hosts! You cannot escape the hospitality of the Bhutanese especially in their own land. Let me begin with what is available in that region.

Yak meat, cheese, the milk are obviously widespread. But what is the most important ingredient in any Butanese meal is chillies. Till such time one is not sweating it out while eating, they feel it is not worth the meal. In fact if you have visited Bhutan or ever get a chance to visit Bhutan, you’ll yourself notice the predominance of chillies even in the market place or people’s kitchen gradens. The national dish is of course the fiery ema datshi. It is a dish comprising of green pepper and cheese and is eaten with Bhutanese red rice as a staple diet. Any other aspice is negligible in their curries. Another staple dish is cuyred dried pork. There are several dishes which are prepared from pork including pork fing, phaksha pa, kewa phagsha, etc.

Five kilograms per head per week is the normal consumption. As this is the only crop cultivated, rice finds its way in various forms from breakfast to dinner. It’s either rice with curry or curry with rice. Two categories of rice are used in Bhutan. The urban areas including Thimpu, Paro and Phuntsholing use the white rice while the rural population use the red rice (the grained variety). This rice is grown 8000 ft above sea level. Bhutanese red rice is a red japonica rice. It is semi-milled; some of the reddish bran is left on the rice. Because of this, it cooks somewhat faster than an unmilled brown rice. When cooked, the rice is pale pink, soft and slightly sticky.

Rice based delicacies include ‘Desi’, a tasty mixture of white rice, butter, sugar, golden raisins and saffron and ‘Zow’ or fried rice mixed with sugar, butter and sometimes oilseeds. Both these are the favorite of His Majesty King Jigme Wangchuk and are served on special occasions.

In eastern Bhutan, some wheat is cultivated and the staple diet is ‘Puta’ or wheat noodles. In most families of Southern Bhutan, corn kernels are dried in bamboo shoots and then ground coarsely to make ‘Kharang’. This is then added to the leftover curry and made into a ‘Thukpa'(porridge) style breakfast.

The rice is served in a special tightly woven bamboo bowl called ‘bangchung’ made in the Kheng province. Meat, especially Yak meat, is a staple food for the non-vegetarian. Yak is a common sight in every household. Not a single part of the animal is wasted, similar to the banana plants in India. Beside meat, their milk is dried and made into cheese, even the skin is fried and served as a snack with drinks.

The Yak herders come down from the highlands in autumn and sell meat, butter and cheese to villagers in exchange of rice to last them a full year. The average meat an adult Yak yields is 250 to 260 kg. It also produces 1 kg of butter and an equivalent amount of cheese in three to four days. The locals sometimes hang thin strips of yak meat in the courtyard to be dried in the hot sun and stored for use in the winter. “The dried variety is more delicious”, quipped a village woman on enquiry.

Though they appreciate the pleasure of meat, being a Buddhist country, slaughter of animals is restricted. In Bumthang, a district in eastern Bhutan, slaughter of animals is not allowed at all. But you can eat the meat if the same animal fell off a cliff. What a concession!

The common preparation of meat is ‘Pa’, a curry. Large chunks of meat are mixed with lots of vegetables and chillies and boiled for a long time to make a curry. Turmeric or other spices are not used, leaving the curry white.

‘Zhasonpa’ is prepared in the same manner, except chicken pieces (Zhason) are used instead. This specialty can be tasted … obviously without the chillies. Bhutanese also love ‘Momos’. Though a Tibetan specialty, it has occupied a permanent place in the Bhutanese culinary. Chicken or Pork Momos are favored but cheese Momo is most common.

Coming back to ‘Ema Datshi’ or churpi or yakshi we call in India—very popular in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh but in the Twang region. Here is a brief on how it is made

To make the cheese, pour boiling water to the liquid yogurt left in the butter churn after the butter is removed. Stir gently till it turns into a soft yellow paste that is fried with butter and sugar to get the ‘Datshi’. Finally, add chili, salt and cook with the Datshi to make a curry.

Sometimes the Datshi is dried for a few more days to make it hard. It is then cut into pieces, stringed and kept over fire for three to four months (yes!) and Wow! The stone hard chewing gum is ready. And this is what the Bhutanese chew all the time. They say it helps to keep the body warm. I tried it and actually liked it but my friends threw it out in no time due to its pungent odor.You just have to develop a taste for these things actually 


The Kitchen

The Kitchen

How do they wash down all these hot, spicy delicacies?The answer is simple. Either with drink or with Tea. The Bhutanese can drink ‘Suja’, butter tea or ‘Ara’, a locally made wine. Ara is made from any grain cultivated in the region, rice, wheat or Barley. In traditional feasts an unusual snack is offered. Butter is heated with egg and Ara is poured over the whole offering.

In the Northern District of Ha and Lingzhi, another queer dish is prepared from Yak haunch. The entire haunch is wrapped in a cloth and kept for two to three months and then served with chillies and wine.

In the Kheng region, raw meat is served with drinks and on special occasions, the whole village participates in the feast. In Bumthang, a rare tea is made from a parasitic plant ‘Neshing Jurma’ that grows on Oak trees while the predominantly Nepalese area of Southern Bhutan savor ‘Shel Roti’. Salt and sugar is added to rice flour and made into a paste, which is then fried, in bubbling hot oil.

These days however, the Urban Bhutanese are tilting towards the Western type of food and even the rural population is not interested in this laborious process. But in festivals, weddings and other traditional gatherings they always go for the cuisine of the land.



The KING as it is rightly said.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 18, 2008 by ashthefoodie

The hottest chili pepper in the world– bhoot jalokiya/naga jalokiya/raja mircha/u-morok

The King

The King

Since 1994 and until 2006 the record holder as the “hottest pepper” was the Red Savina Habanero with an SHU rating of 577,000. In 2006 two agronomists, Joy and Michael Michaud, in Dorset, England, bought some chili peppers at a Bangladeshi market in Bournemouth, took them home and found them extremely hot. They took some seeds and grew them in their garden and when they tested the harvested bite-size chilies they recorded an SHU of 876,000. They sent it to a laboratory in New York where it recorded even a higher SHU of 970,000. They called it Dorset nAgA recognizing that it is a variant of Bangladesh’s fiery Naga morich. With all the certificates of analysis they applied for the “hottest pepper” status in the Guinness Book of Records. At about a million SHU, the Dorset nAgA became the hottest pepper around. End of story? Not quite!

In August 2000, some Indian scientists from the Defence Research Laboratory in Tezpur, Assam, reported on a new chile cultivar which they identified as Capsicum frutescens cv. Nagahari. It was dubbed Tezpur chili and also referred to as Indian PC-1. The native name is NAGA JALOKIYA, “chili of the Nagas”, after the inhabitants of Nagaland. Its heat index was 855,000 SHU. The results were published in the journal Current Science, (79, 287, 2000). However, the work invited considerable criticism for lack of proper calibration of the HPLC apparatus that was used in measuring the capsaicin content.

In addition, authentic NAGA JALOKIYA A material was not available outside of India for others to corroborate the results. Also it was questioned whether a Capsicum frutescens variety (to which the Tabasco pepper belongs) could engender such a high SHU material. However, in 2003, it was suggested that the Tezpur variant could belong to Capsicum chinense (to which the Red Savina Habanero belongs) which lent some credence to the heat claim. The Dorset Naga, which is a variant of the Bangladesh species, was characterized as C. chinense. It appears that NAGA JALOKIYA has the genes from both C.frutescens and C. chinense. This NAGA JALOKIYA is commonly grown in northeastern India (Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur) and Bangladesh

NAGA JALOKIYA is also called variously as Bih jalakia (“poison chili pepper” in Assamese language) in some places of Assam, Bhoot jalokia (“ghost” — perhaps due to its ghostly bite or a reference to its introduction from neighboring Bhutan), Nagahari, Naga morich, and Raja Mirchi (“king of chilies”). In Manipur it known as U-MOROK.Despite such different names they all refer to the same chili with the name Naga, a name associated with the warrior clan of Nagaland. Ripe NAGA chilies measure 6 to 8 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide with an orange or red color. While similar in appearance with the Habanero peppers, the skin of NAGA peppers is dented.

The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, decided to test the validity of the “world’s hottest pepper” claim from several entries starting in 2001.The director of the institute received seeds from one “bhut jolokia” from someone who collected it while visiting India.

The institute grew those seeds to get some bulk seed in order to conduct field trials and compare with other varieties. After a few years they had enough seeds to conduct field trials of seeds from bhut jolokia, orange habanero and red savina.

After growing all the three under controlled conditions, the pods were harvested and the SHU of each was measured by HPLC. The orange habanero measured 357,729 SHU while the red savina was even less than the orange habanero. The bhoot jolokia crossed the million mark at 1,001,304 SHU. DNA analysis also indicated that bhoot jolokia had genes of C. frutescens and C. Chinense. Correspondingly Assam-based Frontal Agritech had their Bih jolokia tested at 1.041,427 SHU thereby affording independent verification of the chile pepper from north-eastern India/Bangladesh being the “hottest chile pepper in the world”.

In February 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia (which is the preferred name for the Indian pepper at the Chile Pepper Institute) as the “world’s hottest chili pepper”. As noted above, all the varieties, bhut jolokia, NAGA jolokia, and Raja Mirchi belong to the same class and originated from north-eastern India/Bangladesh. The Dorset NAGA that was mentioned at the outset, likewise, is a derivative of the NAGA JALOKIYA. So, at this point and until some other species/cultivar can claim a higher SHU, the Bhoot Jolokia/Bih Jolokiya/NAGA Jolokia/Raja Mirchi/Naga Morich clan can hold the title as the “hottest pepper in the world” When a chemical called substance P is released from a neuron (nerve cell), pain gets propagated. Capsaicin reduces the amount of substance P in nerve endings and interferes with pain signal transmission to the brain. Capsaicin can be used in a cream or ointment form to relieve neuralgia (pain in the nerves near the skin), and minimize the pain caused by diabetic neuropathy, osteo-arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Capsaicin also relieves the pain caused by shingles (blisters around one side of the waist caused by the chicken pox virus) in adults. A Danish study confirmed the pain-relief effect of capsaicin when applied to the wound area during/after surgery