June 2, 2018
A Naga-based, couple from the hilly Ukhrul district of Manipur, who started making chocolates infused it with dry king chilli, now plans to sell the bars in the rest of the country.
“The unique selling point of our chocolates is that we are using our locally-grown products like ghost chilli, making it more palatable. We want our products to have the feel of unexplored Northeast so that people outside can taste the uniqueness of our region,” Zeinorin Stephen of Hill Wild, the firm that makes the chocolates said.
Zeinorn and her partner Leiyolan Vashum, started the chocolate-making unit with cocoa and locally-grown organic products like king chilli, pumpkin seeds and plum wine.
“At present, we sell about 8,000 to 10,000 chocolate bars in Manipur, Nagaland, Shillong (Meghalaya) and Jorhat (Assam) every month. We want to increase our production and sell the bars in other cities in rest of the country. Customers here like the hot flavour and we hope people in rest of the country will like them more as it’s a new and unique product,” she said.
A king chilli bar costs Rs. 160 at present.
King chilli or bhut jolokia was rated the hottest chilli in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 but was later beaten by the Carolina Reaper, which continues to hold the record with 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Unit (measure of spiciness). The king chilli has 1,041,423 SHU.
The bhut jolokia (Capsicum chinense) is abundantly found in the Northeast, particularly in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.
The Hill Wild is also selling chocolates made with roasted pumpkin seeds and plum wine. The firm purchases the organic pumpkins, chilli and plums from a group of 25 farmers. Hill Wild has 13 employees.
“We are facing a lot of challenges – from logistics to lack of funds and skilled manpower. But we are working hard to make our dream go on,” Zeinorin added.