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Dinners To Build Up Spice Tolerance

04 March 2022

When it comes to taste, spice can be a divisive subject. While some people love to drown everything they eat in layers of hot sauce, the sight of a pepper can be enough to get the eyes of others watering.

Often, it’s a matter of what we grew up with. Being exposed to spicy food from a young age helps to build up a palate with far greater heat tolerance, although this is not something that every cuisine provides.

There are many cultures around the world in which spicy food is practically non-existent, meaning that it’s much harder for these people to take up spice as they get older. But as you get older, curiosity blossoms, and you may find yourself wanting to explore all the different tastes the world has to offer. In this case, building up a spice tolerance is a gateway to exploring entire new cuisines and flavour sensations.

For beginner-level spice enthusiasts, this may seem a daunting task. But have no fear, this collection of dishes from around the world offer a great entry point to the world of spice, and make for an exciting dinner any day of the week!

Pasta Arrabiata

Europe in general is not known for producing spicy food, but there are a few exceptions to this. Pasta arrabiata refers to a style of pasta that originates from the Lazio region surrounding Rome, and is traditionally made from tomatoes, garlic, oil, and peppers.

The peppers add a fiery kick to the classic Italian palate, which is where the dish gets its name. Arrabbiata literally means "angry" in Italian, a reference to the heat of the dish. Although it does have a kick, pasta arrabiata is still mild enough to be the first step in building up your spice tolerance.

Mexican Rice

Mexican rice, also known as Spanish rice or red rice, is a common side dish that appears throughout Mexican cuisine. Made by adding tomato sauce, bell peppers, jalapeno, garlic, and a combination of spices, Mexican rice makes a great spicy base for any meal. Simply throw in whatever meat, beans, or veggies you have on hand for a flavourful and fiery kick.

Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry is one of Thailand’s most popular culinary exports, and has become a staple dish in many homes around the world. Green curry gets its striking colour from the mix of herbs - particularly basil - used to make the distinctive, sharp-tasting base.

Cooked up with dollops of mild, creamy coconut milk, Thai green curry can be adjusted to better fit your own personal heat preferences - but it makes a great go-to dish for impressing guests.

Jollof Rice

When it comes to the iconic West African dish of jollof rice - expect fierce opinions. Not only is this tomatoey rice spicey to the taste, but the debate it generates can get pretty heated, too! The major dispute is between the Ghanaian and Nigerian iterations of the dish, and which one should be considered superior.

Both variants consist of spicy red rice cooked with tomato, onions, and a variety of spices. The Ghanaian version is noteworthy for being heavier on the tomato, whereas the Nigerian variant is cooked over a longer period of time, adding a distinctive smokiness to the flavour.

Both versions are immensely popular not only in West Africa, but across the world. Enthusiasts of the hot dish enjoy going to international jollof festivals, and August 22nd is in fact known as national Jollof day!

Vindaloo

While Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse and has plenty of spicy options to get your tongue sizzling, vindaloo is perhaps the most well-known of these dishes internationally. Originating in the southwestern region of Goa, vindaloo is a fiery curry that features on pretty much every British Indian curry house menu.

Interestingly, the Goans themselves took the inspiration for the dish from the Portuguese - basing their own spicy curry off of the Portuguese dish ‘carne de vinha d'alhos’ (literally "meat in garlic marinade"). The components of the curry can include pork, beef, mutton, prawns, or vegetables but the fiery kick of vindaloo is the dish’s real signature.

Locro

Locro is a hearty stew that is popular in the cuisines surrounding the Andes mountains, as the dish developed among native Andean civilizations. Packed with squash, beans, potato, corn, or pumpkin - this stew is as nutritious as it is delicious. Many iterations of the dish add a good kick of spice to warm you up even better from the inside out. Locro is a staple of Andean cuisine, and is one of the national dishes of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, Northwest Argentina and Southwestern Colombia.

Trinchado

Trinchado is another spicy stew, this time being most popular in Portuguese restaurants across South Africa. Traditionally made with tender beef, onion, and tomato, trinchado gets its spicy kick from peri-peri. Topped off with some garlic and red wine, it’s not hard to understand why South Africans love trinchado so dearly!

Dan Dan Noodles

The Szechuan region of China is famous around the world for being somewhat of a Mecca for spice lovers, and it would take forever to list the range of spicy dishes the southwestern region has to offer, but Dan Dan noodles are an absolute must-try!

Picture a bowl of delicious, spicy oil, topped off with soft, hand-pulled noodles, and garnished with meat, ground vegetables, and a splash of green onion. Dan dan noodles have become a popular feature of Chinese restaurants around the world, but they’re surprisingly easy to make at home too!

 

So what are you waiting for? Step up your spice game with one of these fiery and delicious weeknight dinner ideas!