Spicy food is popular all over the world. Almost every country with a well-developed food culture has at least one dish where the heat from chile peppers serves as one of the main components in the flavor profile. That said, some countries place more of an emphasis on fiery flavors than others. Whether you are looking for a vacation destination or want to experiment with a different culinary aesthetic, the countries below offer some of the hottest and most flavorful cuisines in the world.
There is much more to Indian food than the heat from chili peppers, but it would be incorrect to say that peppery heat is not a fundamental part of Indian food. The chili is one of the fundamental spices in Indian food. While chil peppers originally came from Central and South America, India is where they became the famous Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper). Examples of the spiciest Indian foods include vindaloo, the spicy curry from the former Portuguese colony in Goa. Other spicy Indian dishes include Chicken 65 from South India and phaal, a curry from Indian immigrants to the UK.
Not all Thai food is super spicy. Thai restaurants in the West have largely adjusted their dishes to suit delicate palates. Even so, the spicy stuff is usually very spicy by Western standards and you will have a hard time finding mild dishes if you visit Thailand. Traditional dishes like phat
Sri Lanka has been a part of the global spice trade going all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Because of its long history with spices, its cuisine has evolved to incorporate numerous flavorful ingredients. Among those ingredients are the chili peppers that show up in such dishes as coconut sambal. Other hot Sri Lankan dishes include kottu, a shredded roti dish that served with an extremely spicy sauce.
Chili peppers are an almost universal ingredient in Mexico, which is entirely understandable given that this is the part of the world where they originated. While other parts of the world have opted for hotter peppers and dishes with more concentrated heat, Mexican food is mostly only moderately hot; however, the peppers get used in a greater number of dishes. You can see hot chili peppers used on everything from corn and fruits to favorites like salsas and stews.
Spicy food is popular all over Malaysia with Malaysian cuisine exhibiting heavy Chinese and Indian influences. Dishes like laksa are known for including large amounts of hot chili peppers. Other hot dishes include
Trinidad and Tobago
With its large Indian population, Trinidad offers some of the hottest food in the Western world. Examples include versions of Indian dishes like vindaloo along with a variety of other curries.
The best-known Jamaican dish is also the hottest. Along with the flavor of allspice, jerk pork is known for its extremely high level of heat. Jerk pork is typically seasoned with — among other things — scotch bonnet peppers, which can run as high as 350,000 on the Scoville scale. Other hot dishes include Jamaican goat curry, which is also typically seasoned with Scotch bonnet peppers.
Which countries have the hottest peppers?
Here’s another way to look at this, but before reading too much into the chart, let’s give context to this list. Here we compare 133 chili peppers from our PepperScale hot pepper list – the average Scoville heat units for each country of “origin”. Note: We include Africa here as a continent as many of the peppers hailing from there don’t specify an origin country (often because they are grown natively throughout many countries in Africa.)
Origin is also tricky as all chili peppers originate from Central/South America to start. And many of the origins are based on hybrid peppers that were cultivated within the country from peppers that call other locales home. And just because a country is home to the hottest chilies doesn’t mean its cuisine typically follows suit. Still there are insights to be had:
- European countries aren’t known for their spicy food, nor do they call the spiciest of hot peppers home.
- Mexico is well-known for its spicy food, but the heat of Mexican peppers tends to be more even-keeled than other “spicy food” countries.
- Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are not known as spicy food capitals for cuisine, but they do tend to have their fair share of chili peppers. Much of this has to do with hybrids cultivated in these countries. All three are home to some of the most passionate heat aficionados on the planet, all often vying for hottest pepper in the world claim to fame.
- India and Trinidad are home to notably spicy cuisine as well as some of the hottest peppers around. If you want your spicy food to push the limits of extreme eating, these two countries are the best bets.