Spice, spice and lots of spice. Where does that usually amount to?
Well, pretty much one of the most in-demand cuisine there is globally, Indian cuisine. With each Indian region having its staple cuisine, it comes to no wonder that Indian food is considered super popular, loved and eaten by India’s population of 1.36 billion, as of 2019.
And that’s just India. You might wonder, what about the rest of the world? Indian cuisine is adored globally, particularly finding its way to the belies of foodies across United Kingdom, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Germany, France and US.
One thing is a matter-of-fact; its extreme level of spiciness with every bite you take, and every spoonful you consume. It definitely does not take a genius to know Indian food has its way of delighting your senses with its rich aroma suited to take you to a foodie’s heaven – all with a catch, it hosts one of the world’s most amped-up spices set to give you that hair-raising tingle.
Spice Is in Every Indian Cuisine – Get Used to It!
It is commonly known that the average Indian cuisine has at least 7 spices packed in one plate. Turmeric or commonly known as Haldi, Cumin or Jira, Green Cardamom or Cchoti Ilayachi, Coriander, Cilantro, Garam Masala and the Indian Red Chili or Lal Mirch are among some of the essential ingredients one cooks with.
With all the spices, one might wonder how Indian food is not just plain-old spice instead of an aromatic adventure. The best thing is that no flavor is suppressed by the other spice and you can enjoy a hint of individual ingredients in every Indian dish.
Scientists have also discovered that the reason why Indian food is not always overwhelming – especially when you take the number of spices used into consideration is because overlapping flavors simply exist lesser in the cuisine, compared to some of the world’s popular cuisines. However so, they are often times paired with contrast flavors – usually milder flavors that exists in bread, white rice, milk, and porridge, to name a few.
But, What Makes Indian Food So Spicy and Why Is it So Good?
As mouth-numbing as it can get, Indians can handle it. Or they try very hard at least.
But the reason Indian food is so spicy goes back to science – more specifically, the weather of India. Scorching hot days, yes, we all know that – but what does that have to do with the spice produce grown?
The tradition goes back centuries of history. The key word here is its tropical location of which spices grow exponentially easy and rampant across like-weather continents such as the Middle East, Southeast Asia and African continents. It is long been hypothesized that the hotter the climate, the higher the chance of food being spoiled and infected by bacteria and fungi. Spices were then introduced and evolved to tropical plants as a layer of protection against herbivorous insects, fungi and pathogens.
According to the Darwinian Gastronomy, spices were used in plant preservation and mainly to eliminate the spread of foodborne illnesses and food poisoning related to the toxins of microorganisms. Spice was used as an agent to stop these microorganisms from growing to produce said toxins. Over the years, scientist and researchers examined the effect of spices towards antibacterial and antifungal activities, widely claiming that the hypothesis stands corrected.
Not only as a defense, spices act as an antibacterial and antifungal agent even as we consume in our diets.
But, How Did That Seep Into Indian Cuisine?
Indians as did many in tropical climate countries, over the ages, used to cover the meat they hunted with leaves and barks of trees. Refrigerators not present back then led people to preserve the meat with spices, that delayed spoiled effects.
What makes the spice all the more tolerable (besides the mouth-watering foodgasm you’ll experience!) is the extraordinary health benefits that comes with it. Too much of any one thing is always not advisable, so be sure to caution yourself when walloping that plate of Kolhapuri Chicken.
Spices also made people more healthy and stronger – as the medicinal properties helped cure some basic cold, flu-like symptoms and a handful other ailments. Indians experimented with those spices in daily meals and the rest is history.
It’s been long foretold that spices have also an incredible impact to weight loss – with selected spices able to up your metabolism rate by up to 5%. Studies also found eating food with red chilli peppers also helps people take in 75 fewer calories as compared to those consuming bland food.
At its core, spices take a role as an endorphin – which in response to its heat when consumed, the body willingly produces endorphins, like serotonin which it mistakes as pain. Eventually, this helps increase your body temperature and reduces the risk for depression or stress.
Eating food with red chill peppers can also prevent cancer, improve digestion by increasing the digestive fluids in the stomach, work as an analegesic when combined with topical creams to relieve pain or body aches and even help reduce the risk of contracting heart diseases. Yes, spice does all that.
So, the Question Remains – Are You Brave Enough to Try India’s Spiciest Dishes?
Warning: This part will make you salivate. Enter at your own risk.
I’ll leave you to decide on that.
Whether it’s Phaal Curry, Chicken 65, Kolhapuri Chicken, Andhra Chilli Chicken, Pork Vindaloo or Chicken Chettinad, India’s spiciest cuisines are set to give you an adventure of tastes. Each cuisine enables the explosion of flavor combined with the mouth-numbing, intense chills and sweat-breaking effect brought on by enveloping spices with every bite you take.
It’s hot but man, if it isn’t the best food around. (I might be bias but oh well.)