5 ways to douse that chilli burn

Red chili peppers being spread out to dry.
Red chili peppers being spread out to dry. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A love for fiery, spicy foods is a common trait among Indonesians. However, this love for food that burns the tastebuds is now widely shared among people around the globe.

Food technologist from the nutrition and food study center of Gadjah Mada University, Murdijati Gardjito, outlined in her research that there were 322 kinds of sambal (chili sauce) in Indonesia. This vast variety of sambals presents different levels of heat for different people.

If you’ve just tried super spicy sambal and cannot handle the heat, here are several methods to reduce the burning sensation:

Add oil to the mix

The crispy texture of kerupuk (deep fried crackers) may be saving your mouth from chili burn. “The oil used to fry kerupuk will soften the heat. When it meets oil, sambal’s heat will be reduced quite significantly,” said Yoyok Hery Wahyono, owner of Waroeng Spesial Sambal Indonesia, a sambal specialist restaurant chain, as quoted by kompas.com. If the heat in your mouth does not disappear, try downing a spoonful of vegetable or olive oil. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili that gives it the burning properties, will dissolve in oil and reduce the heat in your mouth.

Go for milk, not water

Dairy has the same ability as oil to reduce chili burn in your mouth, as the fat and oil in dairy products also dissolve capsaicin, like regular oil does. Yogurt can help too, although for food with sambal, the combination may be a bit weird.

Sourness cures

Eating or drinking something sour after a fire fiesta in the mouth can also help with the chili burn. 

Keep it sweet

The burning sensation of chili can also be tamed by mixing a tablespoon of sugar and honey with a glass of water. 

Hands off

When you’re the one cooking the spicy meal, your hands are at risk of capsaicin exposure. Wear rubber gloves to avoid this, but if you can’t, wash your hands with chili leaves. “Nature has provided everything. When your hands are hot from cooking the chili, wash them with chili leaves,” said Yoyok. Or, a simpler way: wash thoroughly with water and soap.