16th January marks the world’s appreciation for all foods hot and spicy! With the humble chilli pepper at the heart of it all, on the outside these seemingly harmless fruits can pack a punch. The active compound in chillies called capsaicinoid, is what’s responsible for their spicy sensations and is measured by the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU).
With the vast amount of chilli pepper plant varieties, the intensity of heat can vary massively. To put it in perspective, the humble Jalapeño pepper measures 2,500 – 8,000 on the Scoville Scale whereas a Carolina Reaper comes in as a whopping 2,200,000, that’s 200 times hotter then it’s Jalapeño sibling!!
It’s fair to say that most of us have at one time or another, bitten off more than we can chew when it comes to spicy food and to cool off, find ourselves reaching for milk or diary based products for relief. But why doesn’t it work? It’s all to do with those pesky capsaicinoids, this sneaky oil-based alkali triggers the temperature sensitive receptors in your mouth and many milk-based products contain an opposing protein called casein, which helps break down the capsaicinoids thus dulling the burn.
However, it isn’t just diary that you can reach for in an emergency; acidic food and drink helps neutralise the burn, while intermittently reaching for something starchy can act as a barrier between the chilli and your tastebuds. A word of warning though, don’t assume water will be your salvation as it often only spreads the oily capsaicinoids around rather than dulling them and contrary to popular belief, alcohol (ie Beer) will not save you. Most alcoholic beverages are predominantly water based so will only act to make things worse rather than better!
Even if the idea of eating spicy food gets you hot under the collar, don’t worry you needn’t to enter a World Hottest Chilli Eating contest or tuck into a Vindaloo to celebrate this international day, even the mildest of dishes still counts. So given the time of year, what better way to warm up then with a hearty Chilli Con Carne (try Sally Pussey’s CHIPOTLE CHILLI & CHOCOLATE BEEF CHILLI CON CARNE) or turn the thermostat to the max with a ASHA CLASSIC VINALOO from the Asha Indian Kitchen!