A Manipuri chilli, vibrant in colour and taste, is one of the dearests and celebrated possessions of the state for which it has even organized a three-day long festival, known as Hathei Phanit. The objective behind this festival is to promote this organically grown chilli called Sirarakhong chilli, a particularly grown organic chilli of Sirarakhong village in Manipur.
The villagers in Sirarakhong village have been celebrating this festival since 2009 which have fueled up the promotion and popularity of this chilli much to make it known beyond the boundaries of the north-eastern state. The outcome is that today the villagers who grow this particular chilli are struggling to keep up with the swelling demand.
The king chilli has already made its mark across the world as the hottest of all the chillis. The locals of the state call the King Chilli as Umorok and place the Sirarakhong chilli right after the king chilli. The most unique factor about this particular chilli is that it is grown organically only in the hills surrounding Sirarakhong village.
The Sirarakhong village is based at a distance of about 66 Km from Imphal and comprises of over 200 households who mainly depend on farming for their survival. Although this particular vibrant coloured chilli is being named as Sirarakhong chilli, named after the village where it is grown; it is also locally known as ‘Hatei’. A fully grown Hatei chilli even grows up to eight inches long and is planted in March and harvested in July and August.
Apart from the vibrant red and green colours and its aromatic taste, there are nutritional values too in this Manipuri chilli. As per the research of the state’s Horticulture department, the Sirarakhong chilli has high calcium and vitamin C along with many anti-oxidant properties. This chilli is highly in demand for preparing non-vegetarian dishes mostly as the flavour and aroma of the chilli adds a special quality to the dish.
The three-day long chilli festival showcases several varieties of the chilli product right from the dried and fresh chillis, chilli pickles, chilli powder and so on. A kilogram of this fresh chilli cost Rs. 60 and Rs. 500 based on the type of the product.