Is Saudi Arabian Food Spicy?

Whether you’re traveling to Saudi Arabia or are planning to work there, you have to be mentally prepared for plenty of things to be different. You might be sheltered, by choice, from a majority of the unique aspects of Saudi life, but the region’s food is something you’ll come across regularly. And that might be complicated if you love spicy food.

So, is Saudi Arabia’s food spicy? Saudi Arabian Food is not spicy though it features a wide range of low-heat spices. On average, it is less spicy than “hot” western food but is as hot as “mild” suburban recipes of America. Saudi good has a unique flavor profile and is quite tasty despite not being spicy.

In this article, you’ll learn what you need to know about Saudi Food as a spicy food lover. Mainly, you’ll discover how to make Saudi Arabian food spicy by making a few changes in the preparation or when you receive the food. But first, let’s look at how mild Saudi Arabian cuisine compares to others.

Spiciness Comparison: Saudi Arabian Food Compared to Other Cuisines

The best way to demonstrate the spiciness (or the lack of spiciness) of Saudi Arabian food is to compare it with globally recognized spicy cuisines. If you’re a fan of spicy food, you might have tried Mexican or Indian cooking, and here is how Saudi food compares to them:

  • Indian food has an average spiciness of 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units (six times spicier than a jalapeno pepper). 
  • Mexican food has an average spiciness of 8,000 to 40,000 Scoville units.
  • Saudi food has an average spiciness of 4,000 to 6,000 Scoville units.

While the flavors of the different cuisines cannot be compared based on a Scoville average of the spices used in them, their spiciness can be summed up as follows:

Saudi food is half as spicy as the low-heat dishes in Mexican food, and its spiciest dishes are not hotter than Indian or Mexican Food. However, that doesn’t mean the food does not include spices – it just omits high-heat spices.

In the west, we correlate spice with Picante heat. Even with our regional dishes, the less spicy stuff contains fewer spices. Saudi Arabian Food features a variety of spices that have barely any heat. Because of this, the food has a distinct flavor and taste. Still, it can be disappointing for fans of hot and spicy food.

3 Tips to Make Saudi Arabian Food Spicy

If you love food that makes your nostrils wet, does that mean you should deprive yourself of Saudi food?

We think not.

Saudi Arabian Food’s unique flavor and texture make it ideal for a spice remix. A vast majority of the non-Arab ex-pat population of the region has its own takes on Saudi food.

Here are a few ways to get spicy Saudi food:

1. Request Indian Spices

Cumin is the main spice used in Arabian Food, and it is usually imported from India. Since Saudi Food is made to get the most out of cumin and other Indian spices, it has room for the hotter peppers of India. When getting Food in Saudi Arabia, you can order a Saudi dish from an Indian restaurant and request the spicy version.

The chef will swap milder spices with hotter ones and make an acceptably spicy version of the respective dish.

Garam Masala 1
Garam masala

When preparing Saudi food at home, you can add “garam masala” in the place of cumin, and you’ll get a spicier version of the dish. Here is a garam masala recipe that will help you make the Indian magic spice mix at home.

2. Add Hot Sauce

Just because Saudi Food hasn’t traditionally had spices doesn’t mean Saudi people don’t like spicy food. A Saudi Youth’s favorite is adding Excellence Hot Sauce on potato crisps.

Mandi 1

The same hot sauce is often added to Mandi, Madhabi, and other Arabian dishes. It doesn’t ruin the overall flavor of Saudi food and can be added to a majority of the dishes.

Hot sauce is a quick fix solution for the following situations:

  • You’re not preparing the food at home
  • You can’t find a non-Saudi restaurant
  • You want to make the spiciness reasonably predictable

3. Add Peppers in the Sauce Stage of Preparation

Finally, the third way to make Saudi food spicy is to make alterations at the sauce-making stage. Most Saudi food has a liquid-heavy step where a soup (of sorts) is made. The “soup” is later added to rice or is slow-cooked until it is ready for consumption with bread.

You can add spices at the earliest stage of this “soup-making” process and turn it into the classic “sauce-making” stage we’re familiar with in America. You can add red chili powder, black pepper, and even solid hot peppers to make the food spicy to your liking.

Is Saudi Arabia Food Tasty?

There’s a chance you looked up the spiciness of Saudi Food because you’re not a fan of hot food and wanted to make sure that the Arabian cuisine wasn’t going to make your eyes watery. In that case, you should rejoice because Saudi food is mild in Picante heat, but it also tastes quite good.

Saudia Arabian food is tasty to people who like mild food. It has a noticeable flavor profile influenced by a wide variety of low-heat spices and unique preparation methods. Even fans of hot and spicy food can take a refreshing break by opting for Saudi Food.

Why is Saudi Food Not Spicy?

Saudi food isn’t spicy because the preparation methods used by Saudis emphasize a higher quantity of ingredients. In such recipes, no spice must overpower the others. For this reason, the ingredients considered “hot” are not included in Saudi cooking.

The top spices and seasoning ingredients used by Saudi cooks are:

  • Cumin 
  • Nutmeg
  • Tumeric
  • Sumac
  • Cardamom
  • Garlic

Conclusion: Is Saudi Arabian Food Spicy?

If you are hesitant to have spicy food, you have nothing to worry about in Saudi Arabia. But if you like spicy food, you might have to make a few adjustments.
Saudi Arabian Food has a lot of spices, but since they’re all mild, the food itself isn’t too spicy in the traditional sense. Still, it has a canvas-like profile where you can add ingredients to make it spicy.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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