You've been dying to try out that new curry recipe and, after hours of labouring over a hot stove, it's done. When you sample the dish, fire spreads through your tongue and you realise the curry is just way too hot. Chilli peppers contain capsaicin, a natural oil which causes a burning sensation in the mouth and across the tongue. It can ruin a dish if you're not a fan of spice. Reduce the spice in spicy foods using other foods that neutralise and cool the heat.
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Things you need
- Plain yoghurt or sour cream
- Coconut milk or cream
- Lemon or lime juice
- Crushed pineapple
- Crackers, bread or rice
Add a creamy ingredient such as yoghurt, sour cream, cream or coconut milk to the dish. Yoghurt and coconut milk work well for Indian dishes such as curries and tikkas while sour cream and cream pair well with Mexican dishes such as chillies and tacos. Add a little at a time, tasting after each addition to determine if you've added or enough.
Squirt fresh lemon or lime juice into the spicy dish. Citrus can tame spice and balance out the flavours. It also works well with just about any type of cuisine.
Pour one can of crushed pineapple, a little at a time, into your spicy dish. The sugars in the pineapple will counteract the spice, while the taste of the pineapple will disperse into the food, rendering itself hardly noticeable in the final product. Taste as you add to determine how much you'll need.
Serve the spicy dish with something rough such as crackers, bread or rice. Starchy, gluey foods help to absorb the heat. They will also reduce the intensity of the spice by giving your mouth a different texture to focus on.
Double up the recipe. If you don't want to alter the recipe by adding dairy, acid or sugar, create more of the original recipe, this time omitting the spice. The additional ingredients will dilute your original dish.
Tips and warnings
- Sip an ice-cold, sugary drink to cool a burning mouth. Sugar counteracts the spice while ice numbs your mouth. If all else fails, the effects of spicy food only last about 15 minutes, so rest assured, the discomfort will eventually end.
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