Most South east asian dishes especially Indonesia are known for the love for fiery, spicy foods. However, this love for food that burns the taste buds is not widely shared among people around the globe.

Sambal terasi or sambal belacan is a traditional Indonesian and Malay hot condiment made by frying a mixture of mainly pounded dried chillies, with garlic, shallots, and fermented shrimp paste. It is customarily served with rice dishes and is especially popular when mixed with crunchy pan-roasted ikan teri or ikan bilis (sun-dried anchovies), when it is known as sambal teri or sambal ikan bilis. Various sambal variants existed in Indonesian archipelago, among others are sambal badjak, sambal oelek, sambal pete (prepared with green stinky beans) and sambal pencit (prepared with unripe green mango). Som tam, a green papaya salad from Thai and Lao cuisine, traditionally has, as a key ingredient, a fistful of chopped fresh hot Thai chili, pounded in a mortar.

Know your type of chili is the first thing that you should do before dipping your food on it. Green or red either type of chilli can be very deceiving.

Chili peppers originated in Mexico. After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the world, used for both food and traditional medicine. Worldwide in 2014, 32.3 million tonnes of green chili peppers and 3.8 million tonnes of dried chili peppers were produced. China is the world’s largest producer of green chillies, providing half of the global total.

Fresh or dried chilies are often used to make hot sauce, a liquid condiment—usually bottled when commercially available—that adds spice to other dishes. Hot sauces are found in many cuisines including harissa from North Africa, chili oil from China (known as rāyu in Japan), and sriracha from Thailand. Dried chilies are also used to infuse cooking oil.

Food technologist from the nutrition and food study center of Gadjah Mada University, Murdijati Gardjito, outlined in her research that there were 322 kinds of sambal (chili sauce) in Indonesia. This vast variety of sambals presents different levels of heat for different people.

If you’ve just tried super spicy Indonesian sambals and cannot handle the heat, here are several methods to reduce the burning sensation:

Add oil to the mix

The crispy texture of kerupuk (deep fried crackers) may be saving your mouth from chili burn. “The oil used to fry kerupuk will soften the heat. When it meets oil, sambal’s heat will be reduced quite significantly,” said Yoyok Hery Wahyono, owner of Waroeng Spesial Sambal Indonesia, a sambal specialist restaurant chain, as quoted by If the heat in your mouth does not disappear, try downing a spoonful of vegetable or olive oil. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili that gives it the burning properties, will dissolve in oil and reduce the heat in your mouth.

Go for milk, not water

Dairy has the same ability as oil to reduce chili burn in your mouth, as the fat and oil in dairy products will also dissolve capsaicin, like regular oil does. Yogurt can help too, although for food with Indonesian-style sambal, the combination may be a bit weird.

Eat or wipe your spicy hands with Banana.

The spiciness of chili in your tongue or on your palm can be quickly cooled by the soft and moist properties of banana.

Sourness cures

Eating or drinking something sour after a fire fiesta in the mouth can also solve the chili burn problem.

Keep it sweet

The burning sensation of chili can also be tamed by mixing a tablespoon of sugar and honey with a glass of water.

Hands off

When you’re the one cooking the spicy meal, your hands are at risk of capsaicin exposure. Wear rubber gloves to avoid this, but if you can’t, wash your hands with chili leaves. “Nature has provided everything. When your hands are hot from cooking the chili, wash them with chili leaves,” said Yoyok. Or, a simpler way: wash thoroughly with water and soap.

Source: kompas, wikipedia