There’s nothing that can stop you in the middle of a bite like a dish that’s too spicy. And let’s face it. We are Indians. We can handle the spice, it’s almost a genetic requirement at this point. But even if your ego doesn’t want to give in to an overly spicy dish, there’s a chance your stomach will. So even if you’re a die-hard fan of hot sauce or have accidentally been too liberal with chili peppers, do yourself a favor and don’t try to eat them anyway, because there are some things you can do to repair or at least minimize the effects of an overly spicy dish.
Pour sugar on it
Those of you familiar with the Scoville scale may know that chili peppers have a range of spice levels. You may be surprised to learn that the unit used to grade peppers, called the Scoville heat unit, is based on the amount of sugar water solution needed to neutralize it. It’s one of many kitchen staples that can be used to soothe a dish that’s a bit too hot. For best flavor, mix in granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or a mixture of these.
Turn to dairy products
The active part of the pepper that causes the burning sensation is capsaicin. This molecule binds to our tongue and creates the sensation and discomfort that our brain interprets as pain when we eat spicy foods. Dairy products, on the other hand, contain a protein called casein which binds to capsaicin before it reaches our taste buds and therefore dampens the effects of the spice. So if your dish is too spicy, add cream, yogurt or butter to avoid suffering.
Also Read: Tips To Build Tolerance To Spicy Foods
Lemons, Lemons, Lemons…
Again, this comes down to capsaicin. As an alkaline molecule, it can be neutralized by an acidic element such as lemons or vinegar. Unlike dairy, citrus can drastically alter the taste of your dish, so use it sparingly or as the last squeeze before serving to avoid altering the entire taste profile of the meal.
Anything high in natural fats can help here. The fat binds 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 flavor a bit, but will add protein and healthy fats that will cut down on the spiciness and add flavor to your dish.
Load of carbohydrates 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 kitchen trick to drop a potato into an overly spicy curry and while these starches and carbs don’t directly alter the effects of capsaicin, it can help dilute its effects. And then, what good is a curry without rice?
Turn off the fire
On that same note, if you’re going to dilute it, there’s no better friend than good old H2O. If you’re not too worried about the consistency of the dish, then a few glasses of water will do. Alternatively, try adding a vegetable or meat broth which will intensify the flavors while reducing the spice levels.