Spicy foods are not everyone’s favorite, but most agree that food tastes better with at least a little bit of spice! There is no country without a version of spicy food because every country has different cultures. If you are a frequent traveler, you have tasted a variety of cuisines, and it is natural to wonder which spicy food country to visit next.
So, which country likes spicy food the most? India likes spicy food the most, and here are the top 13 spicy food-loving countries:
- Sri Lanka
When it comes to food, India is known for its spice indulgences. Any food cooked without garlic, cardamon, pepper, chilies, or ginger is considered an incomplete dish in India. But what is it about spices that make food tastier?
Two main components create the burning sensation when you eat spicy food, capsaicin and piperine. Capsaicin is from red peppers, and piperin is from black peppers. There are many more spices besides pepper, and the catch is finding the right blend to make food have more flavor.
So, besides the flavor, what else makes people love spicy food? We will have to look at the science behind the heat to get the answer.
Spices Have Antimicrobial Properties
Did you know that spices were used as a food preservative centuries before the invention of the refrigerator? According to science, the chemicals in hot peppers and other spices are harmful to bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.
Spices serve more of a functional purpose in countries with hotter climates like India and Mexico. Bacteria tend to thrive in warm and humid environments, but these two countries were able to use spices as a solution to their problems.
What started as a preventive measure led to the creation of traditional spicy cuisine that billions of people have come to love and appreciate today.
What are the Benefits of Spicy Food?
Besides food preservation, spices have other health benefits, including:
- They Increase your life expectancy
- Spicy foods increase your metabolism rate
- Spicy foods can help you lose weight
- You will reduce the risk of ulcers
- Pain relief
- Spices naturally open the nasal passages to get mucus flowing
Is there a Negative Side to Spicy Food?
Unfortunately, there are known downsides to eating spicy foods.
People who do not like or enjoy spicy foods have had a negative experience which includes various side effects like:
Fortunately, none of the above side effects are long-term, so it is unlikely that spicy foods will kill you.
So how hot is hot?
Believe it or not, there is a “hotness scale” that measures how much capsaicin different peppers have.
The Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
The SHU scale calculates how spicy or how hot a pepper is. For example, Peppers like Jalapenos, Poblano, Serrano, Cayenne, and Habanero are spicier than green, red, and yellow bell peppers.
In this case, spicy means that a particular pepper has more capsaicin than others. The higher the SHU, the more the capsaicin and the spicier the food.
The best thing about spices is that they retain their nutritional value regardless of their state. So you can cook them, eat them raw or dried and still get all the health benefits from your spicy foods.
Now that you have all the essential information, let us learn about other countries that have some of the spiciest foods in the world.
Other Countries That Love Spicy Food
Thailand is a close second to India with their nuea phat phrik dish. Many spice food lovers can testify that eating this meal feels like lava flowing inside you…but in a good way.
Many spicy meals in Thailand come in the form of soups, salad and fried foods.
These meals are not only spicy but aromatic and flavorful. Nothing is more satisfying than enjoying a meal that smells and tastes good.
2. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a spice-loving country mainly influenced by the historical spice trade route.
Kottu rotti and Kukul Mas curry are some of the spiciest foods in the country available in all major cities where many native Sri Lankans live.
Fortunately, people who cannot handle the insane amount of spices in Sri Lankan dishes have the option of getting simple, regular non-spicy meals.
Mexico is home to some of the hottest chilies in the world. Almost all Mexican cuisine, including tacos, is prepared with homegrown pepper.
Because most spices are homegrown, you will appreciate that you get to choose which spice you want in your food. One of the spiciest foods in Mexico is pozole stew. If you are a spice lover, you will enjoy this stew.
In China, you will have to do a bit of legwork to find spicy food, but it is well worth it.
Provinces like Yunnan, Sichuan, Hunan, and Guizhou are famous for their variety of spicy Chinese cuisines.
Spicy foods at the top of the list include:
- Dandan noodles
- Saliva chicken
- Gan Guo Hunan spicy beef
- Mapo tofu
Korea has a variety of spicy chicken-based recipes, Chicken Buldak being the hottest dish.
Koreans spice not only their chicken stews but also rice and other main dishes.
You have probably heard of Kimchi, a meal made from fermented cabbage and hot chilies. Kimchi to Koreans is what bread is to Europeans, a great way to start a meal.
There are different levels of spiciness in Korean food that also make the food flavorful and tasty.
Jamaicans prepare hot curries with various spices and scotch bonnet peppers, and these meals will make any tourist tear up. Fortunately, the natives add coconut milk and potatoes to tone down the excess heat.
Peruvian cuisine has a variety of stews and soups that will tantalize your taste buds. Aji de gallina, a Peruvian dish made from chicken, is one of the spiciest meals in the country.
The dish is prepared using yellow pepper paste, milk, garlic, and other spices. This combination gives the dish its characteristic yellow color.
Other popular Peruvian dishes include ceviche, lomo saltado, and Papa a la huancaína.
If you are a lamb lover, then Morocco should be your next travel destination. The country has a variety of lamb-based recipes that will make your mouth water.
One of the spiciest dishes in Morocco is the Mechoui, a whole roasted lamb dish flavored with various spices.
The heat in this dish comes from adding cayenne pepper, paprika, and other spices.
Ethiopia is not usually the first country that comes to mind when you think of spice food, but it should be. One of their famous dishes is Doro Wat, a chicken stew prepared with berbere spice.
This dish is not for the faint-hearted as it is pretty spicy. Other popular Ethiopian dishes include kitfo and Shiro wat.
Moroccan cuisine is a blend of different cultures, including Arab, Berber, Moorish, and the Mediterranean. This has resulted in the creation of some unique and flavorful dishes.
One of the most famous Moroccan dishes is Tajine, a slow-cooked stew made with various meats and vegetables. Tajine is usually served with bread or couscous.
Other popular Moroccan dishes include Harira soup, B’stilla, and Mechoui.
Nigerian cuisine is as diverse as the country’s culture and ethnicity. One of the most popular dishes is Jollof rice, a rice dish made with tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers.
Jollof rice is usually served with chicken or beef. Other popular Nigerian dishes include Egusi soup, Fufu, and Pounded yam.
Chile is home to some of the spiciest food in the world. One of their famous dishes is the Charquican, a stew made with beef, pork, and chili peppers.
This dish is so spicy that it is often served with a side of boiled egg to help cool down the heat. Other popular Chilean dishes include Empanadas, Curanto, and Pisco Sour.
Conclusion: Countries that Like Spicy Foods the Most
The country that likes spicy food the most is India, but Thailand and Sri Lanka are in close competition for that first spot. The spiciest food in the world today is Phaal Curry from India. The chefs who prepare this food wear masks in the kitchen to avoid being choked by the spice.