Anandita Dutta Tamuli rubs bhut jolokia on her eyes at the event in Calcutta. Telegraph picture
Calcutta, May 6: Assam’s chilli-chomping queen Anandita Dutta Tamuli might have passed on her special talent to her infant daughter.
At an event in Calcutta, where she appeared along with her family last Friday, her husband Pankaj Tamuli revealed that little Udisha had developed a taste for the red hot chillies. And hers has been a baptism by fire — the fieriest chilli of them all, bhut jolokia, that is synonymous with her mother.
Rated by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world’s hottest chilli pepper, it is 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.
“About a month ago, I placed a red bhut jolokia on the tip of her tongue to see how she reacted to it. Her face turned red and she ran away but she came back again and started demanding, “di di (diya, diya),” laughed Tamuli, a contractor with the state government’s District Rural Development Agency.
Udisha was a year-and-half then. Now, sometimes when she sees even common chilli on the table when the Tamulis sit for a meal, she wants to taste it. “It does not affect her skin at all,” said the father, who feels the mother’s talent might have got passed on to the baby through her genes.
“I plan to train her. Who knows she might break her mother’s record some day,” he laughed. Anandita chomped her way to the Limca Book of Records in 2006 by finishing 60 chillies in two minutes and smearing 12 in her eyes in one minute. She has made an attempt to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 in the presence of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who came to shoot for Britain’s Channel 4.
The gutsy lady from Titabar in Jorhat was in Calcutta for the launch of a TV show It happens only in India on Fox Traveller at 5pm on Thursday which will feature her in its opening episode.
“This variety of chilli is scary hot. I put one on my tongue and it burned for four hours. She really is a special talent,” exclaims the show’s ebullient anchor Sugandha Garg. This is no mean certificate coming from Sugandha, as she has eaten rice with rat meat and slurped on chutney of red ants in course of other episodes on the show.
Udisha, now 16 months, has already beaten her mother by making her chilli debut at a younger age. The 32-year-old mother had her first taste of chilli at the age of six when a mirchi paste was applied to her infected tongue as a traditional remedy for pox. Baby Anandita not only got cured but she also got attracted to the scent of chilli. From then, it was a matter of time before she tried tasting one.
Other than giving her name and fame, mirchi has played also matchmaker in Anandita’s life since she met Pankaj in the process of aiming to document her special talent through setting records.
“My family owns a PCO-cum-fax booth. I met her when she started coming to send faxes to various records authorities,” said Pankaj, holding Udisha in his lap as her mother got set for a demonstration.
A privileged few were witness to this eye-popping feat in Calcutta. Her munching and rubbing of bhut jolokia in her eyes is a popular stage act across Assam.
That is why the Tamulis have started harvesting bhut jolokia in a small plot in front of their house. “It is very expensive. Even in season, it sells at Rs 500 a kg. We planted about 120 saplings. Only if the chillies are not red enough at the time of a show do we buy from the market now,” Pankaj said.
At the Calcutta event, Anandita made a concession of wearing plastic gloves before handling the deadly chillies. “It is for my daughter’s sake. Her skin is too tender,” she said.
Ask the mother if she wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps and she pauses to think before answering: “Perhaps not.”
Which parent will prevail or will it be the baby’s genes that will have the final say? Only time will tell.