Some people can’t get enough of that lip numbing, sweat breaking heat of eating something really spicy. True spice enthusiasts will admit it’s practically an addiction. There are a few countries out there whose cuisine falls right in line with this need for heat so if you’re a spice junkie, consider traveling to one of these top destinations for spicy cuisine.
Now it’s no secret that Jamaicans like things hot, and while it’s usually not too difficult to find a great roti or jerk outside of the Caribbean, nothing beats going to the source. Traditional Jamaican cuisine gets its distinctive heat from the Scotch Bonnet chili pepper which has a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units (the heat rating scale used for chili peppers). In comparison, a jalapeno pepper has a Scoville rating of 2,500-8,000 units…proof this pepper packs a punch. Your likely to find it used as a marinade for meats and in fresh sauces as a condiment.
Unlike some other countries which make use of many dried spices and chilies, Thai cuisine is all about freshness. It’s vibrant and complex dishes make use of many fresh herbs and chilies to give it that distinct fresh spicy heat you know and love. Probably the most commonly used chili in Thai cuisine is the Bird’s Eye Chili. It’s sliced, diced and chopped and added fresh to many dishes and stir fry’s. Thailand is also well known for fabulous street food so there’s no doubt you’ll find something sizzling and spicy to grab while you explore.
Poblano, pasilla, jalapeno, serrano, piquillo…those are just a few of the many chili peppers used in Mexican cuisine. So if you want to experience the real deal head south of the border and immerse yourself in what’s arguably the most chili driven cuisine in the world. Variety is key with Mexican cuisine as there are so many chilies used so many ways including whole dried, fresh, ground and smoked. While visiting it’s essential to try an authentic mole, made from smoked and dried chilies or a delicious fresh ceviche, spiced with fresh chilies.
South America as a whole has a passionate love for chilies of all kinds but if it’s heat you’re craving, don’t pass up visiting Peru. Notorious for the use of fresh chilies in many dishes as well as fresh chili sauces as condiments, the most popular peppers to Peruvian cuisine are the Ají Limon and the Ají Amarillo chili. The Amarillo chili has been tingling taste buds for many millennium as its roots date back to ancient Peru. If you want to try something authentic on your travels keep an eye out for a stew called Aji de Gallina which is usually chicken in a spicy creamy sauce made bright yellow from the Amarillo chilies.
Like the country itself, Malaysian cuisine is a melting pot of influences from surrounding areas. Summarized into 3 main types there’s Malay, Chinese and Indian, essentially combining the best of spicy cuisine into one delicious food experience you don’t want to miss. At the center of Malaysian cuisine are chili peppers, used both fresh and dried with the most popular being the bird’s eye chili used commonly in Thailand as well as green chilies. A favorite condiment of the Malay’s is Sambal, which is a pungent sauce made from various chili peppers, vinegar and spices like ginger, garlic and lime.
One word: Sichuan. The addictive lip numbing, tongue tingling cuisine originating from the Sichuan province of southwest China. This cuisine is infamous for its liberal use of chili oil, dried chilies and of course the signature Sichuan peppercorn, giving the many stir-fry style dishes their kick. Spice addicts will tell you that finding a great authentic Sichuan restaurant isn’t the easiest task but if you get the chance to visit China yourself, head to this southwest province and you’ll have no problems getting your sweat on.
It’s only fair that the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of chili peppers tops this list. Indian cuisine is very much like the country, bright and full of flavor and their use of complex spice blends along with the heat of chillies is something to experience. India is actually home to what’s widely considered the world’s hottest pepper: the Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper. So whether you like a nice hot vindaloo, curry or samosa you’ll find plenty of options in this country.