Must Visit Regions for Spicy Food Lovers in India

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As per the reputation of the Indian cuisine among other countries, spicy is what our food is all about. While it is true that Indian cuisine is largely dependent on spices and chillies, not all the regions in India serve fiery food. But, there are some states and areas in our country which are characterised by their spiciest preparations that are definitely not for the weak! Not just hot and burning, but tasty and aromatic, the dishes in each of these regions are made from a unique set of spices which pack a punch and are full of flavour. 

If you are a spicy-food-lover looking to taste the hottest dishes, plan a culinary trip to these Indian regions!  

1. Andhra Pradesh

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Andhra cuisine is considered as one the hottest and spiciest cuisines in the country. Since the South-Indian states of Andhra and Telangana are the leading producers of red chili, it features in almost all of their preparations. The southern region of Andhra, Rayalaseema, is known for the spiciest cuisine in the state due to the liberal use of chilli powder in almost all the dishes. From their pickles and chutneys to their main course meals and biryanis accompanied by Mirch ka salan, everything boasts of a powerful dose of the spices! 

Particularly their non-vegetarian dishes like Chicken-65, Biryani, Chapala Pulusu (fish gravy) and vegetarian preparations like curries, Rasam, and Karapu Annam feature ample amount of green chillies, thus making them flaming hot! One of the most must-try spicy parts of the Andhra cuisine is the several pickles – Avakaya and Gongura being the favourites. 

2. Kolhapur

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A historic city in Maharashtra which was a part of the Maratha empire for a long time, Kolhapur boasts of a cuisine that is largely influenced by the Maratha community. Strong flavours and a generous amount of spices characterise this cuisine that is especially famous for its non-vegetarian preparations, particularly red-meat dishes. Almost all the preparations are prepared from a mixture of 5 spices, slow-cooked overheat, and consist of a deep earthy colour.

A typical meal in Kolhapur will consist of Tambda Rassa (a spicy mutton soup made from red chillies), Pandhra Rassa (also a zesty mutton soup made from coconut milk and spices), Kolhapuri Mutton Dry (roasted mutton prepared with different spices), and Kolhapuri mutton masala (tender pieces of lamb meat cooked in a traditional way with special Kolhapuri chutneys and masalas), served with a bhakri (an Indian flatbread made from Jowar flour) – indeed a feast for the spicy-foodies! Vegetarians, do not miss the fiery Kolhapuri Misal Pav, a preparation made from boiled lentils, potatoes, farsan, and shev that is served with a special kat (a spicy soup-like gravy prepared from garam masala, tomatoes, garlic – ginger paste, and onions). 

3. Nagaland

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Showing a deep influence of the cuisines of China, Bhutan, and Myanmar, the gastronomy of the north-eastern state of Nagaland features the use of various sauces. Known to produce one of the spiciest chillies in the world - ‘ghost chili’ (local name Bhut Jolakia), Nagaland is nothing short of a heaven for those who love spicy food. The absence of other typical masalas used throughout the country makes the Naga cuisine even more interesting and unique in terms of the distinct spicy flavour. 

The spicy sauces/pickles accompany almost all the vegetarian and non-vegetarian preparations in this cuisine, thus adding to the fire. Rice, vegetables, pork, chicken, eels, bamboo shoots, snails, and silkworms are the common ingredients used in Naga food and everything is accompanied by a spicy chilli gravy or a fiery hot chutney! Most preparations include generous doses of garlic and ginger, further enhancing the piquant flavour. Meat dishes are often cooked with raja chillies which are humongous chillies packed with spice. What is notable in the Naga cuisine is the fact that all the 16 tribes in Nagaland have a distinct and exclusive way of preparing their food. However, one ingredient is common everywhere – chillies! 

4. Vidarbha region

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Located in the north-eastern part of Maharashtra, the Vidarbha belt is known all over the country for its blistering-hot and lip-smacking Varhadi and Saoji fare. The bold and delectable flavours of these cuisines make the Vidarbha region a favourite among foodies. This region is known for putting its own spicy twist on the traditional dishes in the country which are comparatively milder. For example, the Tarri Poha is a fierier version of the normal Poha and is served with spicy hot curry on top or the Bharali Vanga which is a take on the stuffed egg-plant dish consisting of a thick gravy of spices, coconut, and peanuts.

However, the real show-stopper of the Vidarbha cuisine is the Saoji Chicken -  a super-spicy chicken curry that is prepared from chicken pieces marinated in intense spices and cooked in an oily, thick, dark-red gravy of consisting of red chillies. An invention of the Saoji community, a local community of Kshatriyas, this dish is only for those with an immense tolerance threshold for spice! Another must-try in this region is the Kadaknath chicken. Locally known as kali maasi (black meat), this breed is completely black in colour. Prepared with loads of spices and served with matka roti, kali maasi is another typical Saoji dish.  

5. Chettinad

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Freshly roasted and ground spices, along with the abundant use of aniseed and black stone flower, is a typical characteristic of the Chettinad cuisine of Karnataka. Food in this region is all about spices and so it even smells as good as it tastes. Though the use of spices makes the preparations flaming hot, Chettinad dishes are well-balanced and complex in terms of flavour. 

Karaikudi Eral Masala (juicy prawns laced in a fiery spice paste and sautéed with curry leaves, chillies, and mustard), Kada Fry (spicy fried quail meat), Chettinad Chicken (succulent chicken simmered in roasted spices and coconut),  Vazhaipoo Meen Kuzhambu (batter fried banana flowers (vazhaipoo) drenched in a spicy tangy (kuzhambu) gravy) and Meen Kuzhanbu (a flavourful Chettinad-style fish curry) are some of the stars of this traditional cuisine of Tamil Nadu’s Chettiar community.

6. Goa

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The coastal state of Goa is known for its rich and heavily spiced curries which are served with a plethora of freshly-caught and neatly cooked seafood dishes. Featuring a generous amount of red chilies and vinegar, the Goan cuisine is jam-packed with the spicy flavour that is enhanced by the slow-cooking and margination processes. 

Vindaloo (a flavourful pork curry made from spicy chilli peppers, garlic, vinegar and an assortment of spices), Xacuti (a chicken or lamb curry prepared using white poppy seeds, sliced or grated coconut and large dried red chilies), Sorpotel ( a meat curry of Portuguese origin made from spices and vinegar), Shark Ambot Tik (a Shark fish dish which is tossed with onions, red chillies, tomatoes and masala), and Cafreal Chicken (a spicy green-coloured dish prepared with grinded green chillies, herbs and various spices) are some of the must-try Goan dishes for spicy-foodies. 

The zing of chilli, the aroma of spices, the burning sensation in the throat and the teary eyes await you at these regions in the country. Plan a hot, gastronomical adventure today! 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Oscillating between reality and day-dreaming, Meghana is a journalist by education and a travel-blogger by profession ...

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