Spice Lounge Kitchen | The Science Behind Spice - Spice Lounge Kitchen
26th January 2017

The Science Behind Spice

Here at Spice Lounge Kitchen, we like it hot, which is why we specialise in all things spice! Have you ever wondered why curry tastes hot, though? Wonder no more as we have done the research for you to discover more about the science behind spice.

What Makes Curry Spicy?

While we know that chillies are the reason behind the spiciness of curry, you may not have thought about why chillies have such an effect on your taste buds. So what is it that can have you reaching for the milk?

In short, the answer is capsaicin – a chemical found in chillies. This chemical reacts when it comes into contact with mucus membranes, producing a burning sensation. That’s why your vindaloo can give you that ‘mouth on fire’ feeling!

Why Does Milk Soothe the Burning?

While some of us can handle high levels of heat, others don’t enjoy that tongue-burning sensation quite as much! However, capsaicin is hydrophobic so it won’t dissolve in water, but it will in fats and oils. That’s why a glass of water doesn’t have the desired cooling effect you’re after, but full-fat milk does! That’s also why we often eat curry with the yogurt-based mint raita.

Why is Capsaicin Hot?

We’re not the only ones that experience the effects of capsaicin. In fact, all mammals have the same burning sensation when they ingest the chemical, so it is thought that it is partly designed as a defence mechanism to discourage mammals eating the chillies as the seeds are destroyed during digestion. However, scientists now think that there may be more to it than that as particularly hot chillies have been shown to have better defences against a certain harmful fungus.

While the science behind the spiciness of chillies is interesting, the most exciting thing is eating the curry itself! When you visit us at Spice Lounge Kitchen in Edinburgh, you can pick from a huge range of delicious, flavoursome, and spicy curries as well as a range of international dishes and pizzas. Take a look at our menu online and book a table with us – we look forward to seeing you!

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