It's all too easy to become overzealous with spices when you're cooking. Especially when trying recipes from other cultures, you may not be accustomed to the amount of heat in a dish. If you've tasted something and experience only the heat with none of the flavors of the spice, tone down the heat by adding a few extra ingredients to counteract the effect the spiciness has on your tongue.
Omit or reduce the amount of spices in a recipe if you know you're sensitive to the heat in foods. Halving the amount of spices called for gives you some of the flavor with less of the heat. When you find a balance that works for you, make note of your recipe alterations for future reference.
Add a dollop of dairy product to the dish to help tone down the heat. Dairy products, naturally mild and bland, counteract the heat of spices without altering the composition of the dish. Since the amount of milk, cream or sour cream needed depends on the amount of spice in your dish and your own tastes, add a tablespoon at a time, sampling between each addition until you've fine-tuned the taste and heat level.
Drop a teaspoon of sugar or honey into the dish, if adding sweetness won't compromise its flavor. Both sugar and honey, used sparingly as the opposite of the heat, effectively cancel out the spiciness. Since sugar and honey can be strong, they work best in Asian-inspired dishes that call for sweetness, such as sweet-and-sour sauces.
Increase the amount of bland ingredients in your recipe to water down the taste of the spice when you've added too much. For example, for a tortilla soup that's too spicy, add more rice, beans or broth to dilute the heat so it's more manageable. A good measure is to repeat the recipe, halving it and omitting the spice.
Serve spicy dishes with dairy on the side, so guests can add as much or as little as they want to tone down the heat, to taste. Cream-based salad dressings, cream cheese and sour cream can all be added after a dish is prepared.
What Can You Do to Tone Down Curry ...
Solutions for Too Much Heat in a ...
What Can Take the Spiciness Out of ...
How to Cook With Turmeric Powder
Cooking Yogurt Without Curdling It
How Can I Tone Down a Dry Rub That Is ...
What Cuts the Taste of Salt?
How to Make Your Own Seasonings for ...
Tips on Cooking with Curry
Can I Replace Cumin With Chili Powder?
How to Make Black Bean Sauce
Can I Exchange Cinnamon for Allspice?
How to Fix a Sweet Taste in Stews
How to Reduce the Vinegar Taste in ...
How Can I Make Curry Taste Less Bitter?
How to Fix Too Much Salt in Guacamole ...
Spice Substitutes for Curry Powder
How to Neutralize Food Seasoned With ...
Vegetarian Beans and Rice Recipe
- "The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living"; Su-Mei Yu; 2009
- The Kitchn; How Can I Tone Down a Too-Spicy Dish?; Faith Durand; March 2011
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.