Saturday foodie corner

Why spicy food does not have to have chilly

organic vegetables in nairobiWhy spicy food doesn’t have to be chilli?
most have created the assumption that spicy food must mean chilly food. Did you know that if you go and order at a restaurant you can request for the food to be mild, that is no chilly and still have loads of flavour? Spicy food in a truer definition is meant to be food that has flavours from natural spices and herbs. Granted some communities are known to be more liberal with some of their combinations of spices but that should not be an excuse not to try spicy food sometimes. Than
They key first of all is to have some milk or yoghurt as a liner and for those who do add chilli to their food the milk goes help sooth the burning sensation in the mouth. You should never try to sooth it with cold water. It may seem like the right idea at the time but the burn will not albeit.
Secondly, not everyone can handle chilly, particularly red chilli and assuming that one cannot have spicy food simply because of the chilli is a misrepresentation. One can always make the dish they at home and create the flavour without the burn of the chilli. Alternatively, if you buy premade mixes of sauces you simply add more coconut milk: in particular, Thai curries that have a heavy influence of coconut milk so balancing the coconut milk ratio to spicy will help reduce any chilli that may be present in it.

So what’s so great about spicy food?
Traditionally what is considered spicy food is actually food that has been cooked/flavored with herbs and natural flavors endemic to the country of origin such as cumin seeds, turmeric, sea salt, onion seeds all of which have good digestive and health benefit to the body when used in the correct amounts and it tastes really good.
As the world has gotten more interconnected more flavours have interlaced within cuisines. For those of us who have grown up on cross-continental food simply eating over boiled food never seemed an appealing option, firstly because of the taste or rather lack of it as most of the flavour was probably removed in the boiling process and secondly because there was no nutritional value probably left in it.
At this point many would argue that boiling beans and certain local vegetables are how they are prepared to make them edible, a fact that is not under dispute here. Even after the boiling process to cook the beans/ vegetables most will try to flavour or season the boiled food. The issue comes into play when they are over boiled to the point of stripping all nutritional value and no taste either. There is always a healthy interplay between flavour and nutrition.

Some spices such as cloves have a very warming effect on the body and when overused creates too much heat in the body and an imbalance.
Others such as turmeric are well-known for its medicinal properties, and when used correctly can help the body to heal and repair from the inside. Turmeric is also very good when applied topically. Other spices are added to the cooking process because of their digestive properties.

cinnamon can also be a warming spice, generally used in baked goods but also some spicy dishes. It is sometimes favoured over other spices such as cloves because it is believed to help fight inflammation and assist in reducing blood sugar levels. Ginger also is often used in many Asian dishes not just for the wonderful taste it brings but for its anti-inflammatory properties, many prefer to combine this with garlic.
Fenugreek is also found in many south Asian dishes and is believed to help regulate blood sugar levels.

there are many spices that end up in many dishes across the world that are still spicy, full of flavour ,packed with nutrients and not chilli. Next time you want some spicy food but can’t hack the chilli,  don’t regulate yourself to boring bland food. Even raw vegans eat very flavourful, nutrient packed foods.

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