Trying new foods and exciting culinary experiences is perhaps the best thing about travelling. Spicy Indian food fanatics, or spice beginners, can experience all the culinary wonders that India’s diverse culture offers. From ‘pleasantly tingly’ to ‘set-your-mouth-on-fire’, whichever meal you choose, you can guarantee you will never forget your Indian food adventure.
It is said that eating chillies releases endorphins as a natural painkiller, to protect us from the heat of spicy food. Whether it is because of the spice, or how delicious it is, you’ll be over the moon when you try Vindaloo.
A popular dish from Goa along India’s west coast, Vindaloo tingles the tastebuds with spicy chilli peppers, vinegar, a variety of spices, and lots of garlic.
While there are many variations of the recipe using chicken or lamb, authentic Vindaloo uses pork. The heavy use of vinegar and spices means that Vindaloo always tastes better the next day after it has had time to marinate. The spices and chillies combine to create a harmonious dish that will delight any lover of Indian food.
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A hot, spicy chicken curry from Kerala, Kozhi curry uses both green and red chillies in its flavouring.
Believed to have been introduced to India by early Jewish settlers, this incredible curry blends coconut oil, coconut milk and a smorgasbord of aromatic spices to create its intense red sauce.
One of Kerala’s hottest dishes, this brilliant red curry will have you sweating in no time. If you’re more interested in savouring the intense flavour (without the heat) make sure to pair your Kozhi curry with a side of rice or chapati to cut down the spice level.
Kolhapur is famous for a few things – luxurious silk, beautiful temples, delicious chappals (slippers, for those who don’t know).
However, the region’s culinary claim to fame is the fiery hot Kolhapuri Chicken. Marinated with cloves, red dried chillies, green chillies and garlic paste, this dish is not for the faint-hearted. This spicy food will have you sweating and begging for water, even as you keep eating, it’s just too good.
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The delectable image of meatballs swimming in a bowl of red sauce will set any food lover’s heart aflutter. Whether it’s meatballs and spaghetti or tefteli, any meatball dish is a sure winner.
Madras curry, however, is the best of the bunch when it comes to spicy meatballs. Made with meat, garlic, turmeric, pepper, coriander, cumin and lots of chillies, no list of spicy Indian food would be complete without the inclusion of this exquisite dish.
While the runny nose, watery eyes and sweaty face are a little less than elegant, one taste of this iconic meal and you’ll want more. This delicious dish may not be the spiciest Indian food, but it’s a must-try for spicy food beginners or anyone trying out Indian food for the first time.
Any fan of Indian food will tell you that some of the best meals are found at street food stalls. This roadside delicacy is no exception. Made from the spiciest red and green chillies, Misal will perk up even the most weary of travellers.
For those who are not used to spicy food, the heat level of this popular dish can range from ‘mildly hot’ to ‘my mouth is on fire.’
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Andhra Chilli Chicken
Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, this mouth-numbing dish pays culinary homage to the region known as India’s largest producer of green chilli.
As one might expect, the dish consists of lightly stir-fried pieces of chicken marinated overnight in green chilli paste and then simmered the next day in even more green chilli paste.
Andhra Pradesh is notorious as the home of some of the spiciest Indian food – no doubt due to the abundant green chillies. Andhra Chilli Chicken has been known to burn the tongues of the unsuspecting culinary explorer, so be warned before you chow down!
Originally from Tamil Nadu, legend has it that this deliciously spicy dish was the 65th item on the menu of a military canteen, which is how it came to be dubbed ‘Chicken 65’.
A must-try dish for lovers and explorers of spicy Indian food, Chicken 65 is marinated in a ginger-garlic paste and fried until a deep golden brown. A healthy addition of red chillies gives this dish the perfect kick of heat and one bite will set your tastebuds tingling.
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Mirchi Ka Kutta
This traditional Rajasthani delicacy is made by cooking green chillies, turmeric and amchur powder with milk and a little sugar.
Don’t worry though, the milk isn’t trying to come between you and the heat.
This spicy Indian food is blisteringly hot and, of course, absolutely delicious. Mirchi Ka Kutta goes great with puris and chapatis.
Another delicacy from Tamil Nadu, Chicken Chettinad is an incredibly aromatic and spicy dish that is popular across India. Made with delectable chicken, onions, coconut and red chillies, this highly sought-after dish is a sure-fire win with any fan of spicy Indian food.
Apart from a satiated appetite, this Tamilian dish will also leave you with a scorched tongue.
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Despite being known for its vegetarian cuisine, this Rajasthani speciality literally translates to “red meat”. This mutton-based dish has two distinctive features – mustard oil (native to Rajasthan) and a unique smoky flavour, making it an absolute delight – if you can stand the heat.
The raw spices and whole red Mathania chillies that make up the sauce lend this delicacy a kick of heat that is sure to knock your socks off. Beloved by the Rajput warriors of Rajasthan, the intense flavours make Laal Maas a must-try next time you visit India.
Saoji Chicken Curry
The heat of Saoji Chicken Curry is only beaten by the heat of a Nagpur summer.
One of the hottest cities in India, Nagpur, is also home to this fiery curry. A combination of the hottest spices you can think of and just about every other spice too, Saoji Chicken Curry is a maelstrom of flavour and spice.
Poppy seeds, black pepper, dry coriander, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, powdered coconut, garam masala and much more meld together to create a dish of such epic heat that we can only say… brace for impact (and keep some napkins by your side as you eat).
While many of the dishes of this list of the spiciest Indian foods are meat-based, there are also plenty of vegetarian dishes that are just as hot and delicious! Including, Panner Jalfrezi.
Made with onion, tomato, green chillies, bell peppers and an array of spices, Paneer Jalfrezi is a favourite for vegetarians across India. Its spicy, tangy flavour will even appeal to meat lovers.
Seriously spicy and seriously delicious, this dish will have you coming back for more even as your mouth goes numb.
If this list of the spiciest Indian foods isn’t enough for you, then let us introduce you to Phaal Curry. Known as the spiciest curry in the world, Phaal Curry is offered as an eating challenge by several restaurants across the UK. This mind-numbingly hot curry was invented by British Indian restaurants who wanted to combine Indian spices with the spiciest chillies in the world.
Made with Bhut Naga Jolokia, which formerly held the title of being the hottest chilli in the world, Phaal curry has been likened to a live grenade in your mouth. Be warned though, people have complained of burned tongues and severe vomiting after consuming Phaal curry. This is a dish truly for the culinary daredevils among us.
Which incredible dish from our list of the spiciest Indian food will you choose on your next trip to India? Let us know in the comments below! Or, head to our website so you can read more about how you can discover the best culinary adventures when you travel with Trafalgar.