No more chugging water and burning eyes, use these tips to fix any overly spicy dish.
There’s nothing that can stop you mid-bite like a dish that’s just too spicy. And let’s face it. We’re Indian. We can handle spice, it’s almost a genetic requirement at this point. But even if your ego doesn’t want to give in to a dish that’s too spicy, there’s a chance your stomach might. So even if you're a die-hard hot sauce fan or if you've just accidentally been too liberal with the chillies, do yourself a favour and don’t try to eat it anyway, because there are some things you can do to fix or at least minimise the effects of an overly spicy dish.
Pour Some Sugar On It
Those of you familiar with the Scoville scale may know that chile peppers have a range of spice levels. It may surprise you to learn that the unit used to rank peppers, called a Scoville Heat Unit, is based on how much sugar-water solution is required to neutralise it. It is one of the many kitchen staples that can be used to soothe a dish that is a little too hot. For the best flavor, mix in some granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or a mixture of these.
Turn To Dairy
The active part of chilli that causes the burning sensation is capsaicin. This molecule binds to our tongues and creates the feeling and discomfort our brains interpret as pain when eating spicy food. Dairy on the other hand contains a protein called casein that binds with capsaicin before it reaches our tastebuds and as such lessens the effects of the spice. So if your dish is too spicy, throw in some cream, yoghurt or butter to help save you from suffering.
Lemons, Lemons, Lemons...
Again, this comes back to capsaicin. As an alkaline molecule, it can be neutralised by an acidic element like lemons or vinegar. Unlike dairy though, citrus can drastically alter the taste of your dish so use it sparingly or as a final squeeze before serving to avoid changing the entire taste profile of the meal.
Anything that’s high in natural fats can help you here. The fat bonds and dissolves the oils in the capsaicin molecules which tempers the spices and makes them less painful. A scoop of peanut butter in your curry may change the flavour a bit but will add protein and healthy fats that will reduce the spice and add to the flavour of your dish.
Carb Load At Will
Things like potatoes and rice can help balance out the heat of an overly spicy dish, simply by diluting its concentration. It’s a common cooking tip to drop a potato into an overly spicy curry and although these starches and carbs don’t do much to directly alter the effects of capsaicin, it can help dilute its effects. And anyway, what is the point of a curry without rice?
Quench The Fire
On that same note, if you’re going to dilute it there’s no better friend than plain old H2O. If you’re not too worried about the consistency of the dish, then a few glasses of water will do the trick. If not, try adding a vegetable or meat broth that will intensify the flavours while also cutting back on the spice levels.