How To Cool Down A Spicy Curry

Don't worry, you can salvage the dish.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

We've all experienced a curry too spicy for our tastebuds. Maybe you ordered the vindaloo thinking you could handle the heat, or you've slaved away in the kitchen and accidentally added too much chilli powder, and sit down to enjoy the curry, only to realise you've made actual fire instead.

Whatever the reason, a too-hot curry feels like a massive food fail.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to cool down a spicy curry. You just need a few tricks and everyday ingredients up your sleeve.

"There is always a way to salvage [a hot curry]," co-owner and executive chef of Wild Sage, Chef Rasel, told HuffPost Australia.


1. Add dairy

Dairy such as yoghurt and cream can help balance spiciness and impart a cooling effect on a curry.

"I would recommend adding yoghurt to your dish. For example, tzatziki or Greek yoghurt," executive chef Mark Axisa at Catalina Rose Bay said.

2. Add coconut milk

As with dairy products, rich coconut milk can also decrease the heat in a curry, head chef at Cumulus Up Colin Mainds explained.

"I like to use high-acid dairy products such as yogurt or a nicely seasoned coconut cream to add a dimension to the dish and still cool down the curry."

Raita, an Indian condiment made of yoghurt, mint, cucumber and lemon juice, is perfect for refreshing your palate when eating spicy curry.
Raita, an Indian condiment made of yoghurt, mint, cucumber and lemon juice, is perfect for refreshing your palate when eating spicy curry.
Getty Images

3. Add acidity

Axisa also recommends adding an acidic food or liquid to the spicy curry, such as citrus.

"Lime juice will be able to counteract the spiciness. It always does the trick," Axisa said.

4. Add sugar

Sugar can also help reduce spiciness -- however, be careful to not add too much sweetener and change the flavour of the dish.

"If there is a sweet element added to the dish, the spiciness level will decrease," Rasel said.

5. Add vegetables

Adding vegetables, particularly starchy vegetables like potatoes, can also help make a too-hot curry more mild.

"I find adding a yoghurt-based salsa to the dish and more vegetables seems to cool down a curry when it is too spicy," Rasel said.

The Picture Pantry via Getty Images

6. Serve with cooling condiments

Perry Schagen, head chef at Supernormal, told HuffPost Australia to serve your hot curry with cooling condiments which contain the above elements, such as raita or cucumber.

"I like to serve cooling condiments with a hot curry -- large pieces of fresh cucumber, cooling and acidic fruits like green papaya, fresh herbs like mint, or a dairy like yoghurt," Schagen explained.

To avoid making an overly spicy curry in the first place, always remember that different types of chillis produce different levels of spiciness.

"Know your spices. When you're adding chilli or cayenne pepper, add them slowly to your dish and test it out as you go," Axisa said. "It is important to note that spices develop the longer they are being cooked for."