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Jan 25, 2012 07:16 AM

What Is the Hottest Cuisine on the Planet?

Based upon your personal experience--and hearsay, if you want to factor that in as well--what is, generally speaking, the hottest cuisine on our little mote of dust? My most scorching experiences have come from Thai food and that of Andhra Pradesh in India.

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  1. I'll go with authentic Thai.....killer stuff but wonderful.

    4 Replies
    1. re: beevod

      agreed. some 20 yrs later I still recall a wonderful soup I had in some little Thai place in Paris. Just inhaling the steam from the bowl, produced instant beads of sweat on my forehead and blinding tears.

      1. re: beevod

        The hottest food I've ever had was a yellow chicken curry, eaten in a temple complex in Southern Thailand, for breakfast.

        1. re: beevod

          I'm with you. Authentic Thai food ftw.

        2. In general the spiciest food I have eaten was in northern Thailand and Laos, but the single spiciest dish I've ever eaten was a pizza topped with Dorset Naga chillies in little old England. I don't think we can claim the spiciest cuisine overall though!

          1. Only two times have I not been able to eat something because it was so spicy - both times were at Indian restaurants in Washington, DC.

            1. I would say South Indian or Sri Lankan. Years ago, I used to go to a restaurant in Minneapolis called Sri Lanka. This was a place where the stars meant something. Americans who liked hot food would order two stars, and those who liked it fiery would order three. I never knew anyone to try five stars.

              16 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                If I ever find myself in Minny, I'm makin' a beeline for that place.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  oh that restaurant ruled. but it is no more :(

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Sri Lanka Curry House, right? I did some research and its absence is much lamented.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      yes. great people, great food. always hoped to see them open up somewhere else. that same weird little strip-mall limbo land between uptown and the near-burb of st. louis park where the sri lanka curry house was located also housed a great tuscan place for a couple-three years. i wish both restaurants were still around.

                2. re: GH1618

                  I thought of Sri Lankan, too. I don't know much about the cuisine, but whatever I have had has been pretty hot, though.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    I used to work with a Sri Lankan guy who always said "You cannot get food too hot for me!".

                    1. re: Querencia

                      Just out of curiosity, peeked at a handful of Sri Lankan food blogs and looked at the recipes. I didn't find that any of the recipes called for an exorbitant amount of the usual heat sources in South Asian cuisine.

                      I saw the typical fresh green chiles (whole, slit, chopped, ground), dried red chiles which are whole, crushed, or powdered. The normal amount was prescribed: 3-4 whole chiles (dried or fresh or both and could be more depending on recipe, maybe upper limit would be 8), 1 tsp-1 tbs ground chiles or chile powder is added (I tend to go for 1 tsp but in families that like it very hot 1 tbs is like the upper end limit, 2 tbs or something would cause intestinal distress), and these are the typical chile combos and variations that I use cooking my regular Indo-Pak food. I think some of their sambol (chutney-like accompaniments to meals) can be pretty hot, but same with many Indian pickles and chutneys.

                      I was wondering what typical chiles Sri Lankans use. Their food is reputedly extra hot and it could be because their daily chile variety is hotter than they varieties of chile that I typically use. We get a very limited variety of Indian fresh and dried chiles at the Indo-Pak grocery in the US and it is not representative of the large variety of different chiles used in regional cooking in S. Asia. Although I am not familiar with all of the varieties, I know that some are reputedly hotter than others. We need some in put from someone who knows that kind of chiles are used in Sri Lanka.

                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        Perhaps some obscure Sri Lankan chile will be the next great pepper find like the bhut jolokia several years ago.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          I doubt they are using something like the bhut jolokhia but I figured it would be something more similar to some of the hotter S. Indian varieties of chiles which are grown in particular regions. Some S. Indian food is quite mild in other regions or in particular ethnic communities...I can only imagine that there must be a lot of diversity in Sri Lankan cuisine as well, even in terms of heat level.

                          1. re: luckyfatima

                            I've yet to taste a fresh bhut jolokhia. All of those that I've had (and that I stock at home for cooking) are smoke-dried. What does a fresh one taste like? Does it have tropical fruitiness like an habanero? Or does it have the rough but complex flavor of a thai chili?

                            1. re: DoctorChow

                              I've found them to be a lot like a very floral habanero in flavor.

                              1. re: JMF

                                I think there might be a little bit of the floral flavor but the initial burst of heat is so sharp and almost tingly that I'd be more apt to compare it to a hot version of Sichuan peppercorn. I use the fresh bhut jolokia in my vindaloo. It blends in well with the sweet and sour flavors.

                          2. re: Perilagu Khan


                            Just to give you an idea of what I mean, see the list of a few typical regional varieties of Indian chiles here. Some regions are known to have hotter food because their daily chile variety is a hotter type.

                          3. re: luckyfatima

                            I know this is an old post I'm responding to...

                            I'm married to a Sri Lankan, lived in Sri Lanka for eight years, and was taught by my husband's mother how to cook proper Sri Lankan food. She's an excellent cook, luckily for me.

                            The chilli powder we get in Sri Lanka is far hotter than the chilli powder I've bought in Indian shops in New Zealand, Singapore, or Malaysia. The difference is so noticeable that I stock up on Sri Lankan chilli powder when I go back or when his family from Sri Lanka comes for a visit.

                            I'm not saying that the Sri Lankan chilli powder is hotter than all forms of Indian chilli powder - it's quite likely that chilli powder from the southern states of India are comparably hot - but that's what I found in Indian shops outside of Indian.

                            Bhut jolokias do grow in Sri Lanka (I've bought them there), but those are not the peppers that are used every day. The peppers used are shaped more like the Thai birds eye chillies, but larger. But when my husband's family comes to visit (we're currently in Malaysia), they like using the Thai birds eye chilli for cooking.

                            1. re: LMAshton

                              I also think Sri Lankan cuisine is the *hottest* I'd ever encountered. Growing up in a Singapore household, and with close familial ties in Malaysia and Thailand, plus my family's love for South Indian/Tamil cuisine, I'd thought I could handle *any* hot food - until a Sri Lankan friend invited me to her home for a family dinner. My whole mouth felt anaesthetized for the whole evening!

                              A close second would be a toss-up between Sichuanese (I can't think of any reason *why* anyone would want to concoct the tongue-numbing "Shui Zhu Yu"/Sichuan Boiled Fish) and Trinidadian (a Trini friend's mum once cooked a curried fish using a bunch of Scotch bonnet - gah! I took one spoonful and that was that).

                      2. Hi all, my vote is for South Indian. I've just returned from a trip to India and I was floored by some of the dishes. Tasty, but in a few cases almost inedible due to the heat. I had a pork vindaloo that could easily have been any type of meat really as I could taste nothing but scorching fire.