Want a taste of the world’s best spicy food?
Can’t handle the heat? Then it may be wise to get out of the kitchen, as our latest book shows you exactly how to create the world’s most scorchingly delicious dishes. To celebrate the release of Lonely Planet’s guide to The World’s Best Spicy Food, we’re giving you a sneak peek at some of the world’s best tongue-tingling dishes and how to make them. Our Destination Editors have even been brave enough to test them out…
Pimientos de Padrón, Spain
I’ve yet to meet a Spanish person who isn’t highly amused by the prospect of dishing up pimientos de Padrón to foreigners. Little plates of the crispy fried peppers are served as a tapa all over Spain, and are known as the Russian roulette of the snack world. Most are sweet and juicy, but around one in 10 will have enough heat to knock your sombrero to the floor. Apparently. I first had them when visiting a friend in Granada. As we picked our way through the plate she eyed me with an evil glint, waiting. Then I got one, a hot one. The heat rose, she grinned, until… Was that it? The heat dissipated again and I realised these green bad boys were no challenge for a Londoner used to Brick Lane’s finest curry. Roulette indeed.
– Dora Whitaker, @dorawhit
Green curry, Thailand
I’ll never forget the first ‘real’ Thai green curry I experienced in Krabi Town, on the west coast of southern Thailand, circa 2002. Determined to finish what we started, my boyfriend and I sat at a tiny plastic table for over an hour – our eyes and noses streaming – until we had conquered the contents of that little clay pot. I’ll never know if our efforts impressed the diminutive chef as much as they seemed to amuse her.
– Sarah Reid, @sarahtrvls
Katsu curry, Japan
There was a katsu curry house on the street I worked in when living in Japan, not surprising since they are everywhere and the dish is almost considered the national diet. It was my favoured choice of lunch spot for two reasons – it was cheap and you bought your ticket at a vending machine. This eliminated the need to talk to an actual person, a real bonus for a newbie with terrible language skills. One weekend my friend took me on a trip to Kyoto to ‘sample one of the finest katsu curry restaurants in Japan’. I wondered just how different you could really make deep-fried crumbed pork in curry sauce taste? But it turned out you can. The crisp crunchy battered pork topped with thick semi-sweet tonkatsu sauce I bit into was nothing like the soggy alternative I’d been fumbling around with my chopsticks for lunch most days. It’s still a dish I look back on with drooling nostalgia.
– Kate Morgan, @kate_ann_morgan
Green chile, NM, USA
Growing up in New Mexico, I learned to eat green chile on pretty much everything, from traditional New Mexican dishes like enchiladas and burritos, to pizza, stews, burgers and eggs. Unlike a lot of other spicy foods, the purpose of green chile isn’t to blow your head off with spice, but to tingle the tongue and still allow you to taste the full, savoury flavours of the sauce. The spiciest green chile in the state is widely accepted to be made by a dive called the Horseman’s Haven. For my part, though, the best places to sample green chile are La Choza, a cosy Santa Fe restaurant that serves serious green chile enchiladas and sangria on a breezy patio, or Duran Central Pharmacy, where chile is smothered onto massive burritos in a diner at the back of a drug store in downtown Albuquerque.
– Megan Eaves, @megoizzy
Ready to challenge your tastebuds with the spiciest dishes on Earth?
Turn up the heat with a copy of Lonely Planet’s brand new The World’s Best Spicy Food, our expert guide to finding flaming cuisine on your travels and sizzling it up at home.