Indians’ love for spicy food is well known but a competition in Northeast India is taking it to a whole new level.
Each year, the strongest stomachs from across the world come to the Nagaland Chilli Eating Competition to compete for the title of Chilli Eating Champion.
The region is home to the Naga chilli which rates a staggering 1.04 million on the Scoville Heat Unit, the universal measurement for spicy peppers.
Every December, a handful of brave Nagas and some foreigners put their stomachs to the test by seeing how many chillies they can eat in 20 seconds.
This year, Chetie Khiamnungyan overthrew reigning champion Namluai Rongmei by eating 18 and a half chillies.
Mr Rongmei, a 25-year-old rice farmer, only managed to stomach 12 chillies this year.
“I ate 14 pieces last year. It was painful in my mouth and stomach, but it is not a problem,” he said, adding that he has never had to prepare for such competitions as he consumes chilli daily.
The winner takes home 25,000 rupees, which is about $US400.
This year, the competition has drawn a record crowd.
Some of the competitors, like Israeli backpacker Omri Adini, worry about what they have gotten themselves into.
“I am really terrified but it is going to be a fun experience,” he said.
Chilli eating is serious business in this part of the world and organizers have some of the best doctors on standby at the competition.
Last year, two contestants in the Nagaland competition were hospitalized but this year, only one was rushed to the hospital.