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Tips for Tito: When the chilli’s too spicy, turn down the heat with these options

Tito Mboweni. Picture: AP

Tito Mboweni. Picture: AP

Published May 6, 2021


Whether you mistook chilli powder cayenne pepper, habaneros for jalapenos - or simply misjudged how much heat you can tolerate - it has happened to all of us: your soup, sauce, or chili is way too spicy. Can you un-spice it?

This week, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni found himself in this situation. “Too much chillis in the masonja mix. From our garden! Too hot!! Lesson learnt,” he wrote.

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Since 2019, Mboweni has been known as the “minister of cooking” as he has been sharing his recipes and showing off his cooking skills on social media, but is at most times teased about the amount of garlic he uses in his food. Well, this time around the issue was the spicy chillies.

Spicy food can be a little too much to handle if you’re not accustomed to it. If the dish becomes a little spicier or hotter than you like, that does not mean you should start all over, and cook the dish from scratch.

There are ways to restore a dish from spicy to mild, and below are some of the options.

Add veggies

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Some people swear by adding shredded carrots or cubed or shredded potatoes to temper heat. The sugar in them helps to fight the heat, while their porous texture may help to absorb some of the spice.

Add acid

Although not an obvious firefighter, acid can work wonders to reduce heat. Depending on the dish, try adding some citrus juice (lemon or lime works best with most flavours), vinegar, or chopped pineapples.

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Add additional ingredients

The Kitchn points out that if you add in more ingredients to a dish that is too spicy, they will dilute the heat and help balance the flavour. So, for example, if your soup or stew is too spicy, add in more liquid.

Chef Andrea Lynn also shares the below tips.

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Dairy combats heat in your mouth.

So turn to it when trying to bring down the spice of a dish. Whether it's milk, sour cream, or yogurt, incorporate as much of it as you can until the spice has calmed down.

Some people swear nut butter can cut through the excess heat of a dish.

If it's appropriate for the dish, try stirring in a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, etc.

Related Topics:

Tito Mboweni