Fire In My Plate

Red chillies

“There is something wrong with this chicken curry,” declared my brother-in-law.

I glanced up from my plate with some difficulty. My ears, you see, were burning. And I am pretty sure there was smoke emerging from my nose.


“I said there’s something wrong. It doesn’t taste quite right.”

R and I were at his parents’, and my brother-in-law, who is utterly fond of cooking, had prepared a delicious chicken curry for us. He had paired it with fluffy rice. The curry tasted amazing, and I, tired out after the long drive from the airport, ate large mouthfuls before the problem became apparent. At R’s place, they always serve us food on the same plate: a gesture thought to promote love. I gave R a sideways glance; he was gulping down glass after glass of chilled water.

“I have got it!” my brother-in-law clapped his hands in a Eureka moment.

“What is it?” I asked weakly.

“There isn’t enough chilly in this! It is not as spicy as it should have been!”

The pupils of my eyes dilated. I shook my head to dissipate some of the smoke. Of course, it wasn’t spicy enough. After all, I didn’t look quite like a dragon yet, smoking up the place in entirety, and there remained a bottle or so in the fridge that hadn’t been emptied.

“Exactly!” agreed my sixteen-year-old niece. “It should have been spicier.”

R and I continued eating without comment, liberally drinking water, and reassuring the man that his curry was delightful. Fiery, feisty and uh, flavourful.

At R’s place, they adore spicy food. Green chillies? Of course. Pepper? Bring it on. Red chillies? You bet. Add to that a generous dash of red chilly powder—the regular one as well as the Kashmiri one—and what have you. Presumably, R enjoyed all the hotness too until his palate adapted to the milder flavours of the kitchen we have built together.

Whenever we visit his parents, I enjoy the assortment of foods that welcomes us; my MIL is fond of cooking too and is never satisfied until there are at least six accompaniments to every meal. I enjoy the distinctive taste of Bihari cuisine—in some ways similar to Bengali food, and yet dissimilar in subtle ways. It is just the fire that unsettles me, taking over my giant plate and threatening my innards with the sheer force of heat. I find it difficult to control the fire. Instead, I control my portions.

*             *             *

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35 thoughts on “Fire In My Plate

  1. Omg! My system cannot handle spicy food. It is so accustomed to the usual, almost bland food that anything spicy sets the stomach churning. Kudos to you for keeping mum and carrying on!

    • Haha yes, the body quickly gets accustomed to a certain style of cooking. I find spicy food especially difficult to keep down in this blazing heat. Bring on the light and cooling foods, I say!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed your experience with spicy curry.
    Cooking is an art but though we might not not agree with all the creativity, but we should definitely respect it and I really appreciate that you really did that. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, thank you so much! 🙂
      Cooking is definitely an art – and one I can see you totally rock. 🙂 But even when the results are not as per our liking, the effort matters a great deal.

  3. Hahah! Sorry can’t help but laugh. But I am sure I’d have run out of the room shrieking if I had to down all that spicy curry. Both my FIL and dad are spice lovers. Thankfully the rest of the family works on the less spicy side hence I am saved.

    • Talk about resilience, tolerance and all that, huh *makes a smug face* 😀
      Lucky you to have most of the family on your side of the palate. My Dad is a spice lover too, by the way. He adores rich and spicy food; his face when trying to eat healthy (which he has been religiously doing) is a sight in itself 😀

  4. Cooking is bliss and need to learn in concocted the real spicy dishes. Hehe! Fire in your plate and what is food without our Indian spices, Debo. I love this tale about food, being hungry and feeling of something amiss.

  5. You didn’t breathe fire like a dragon, ha ha ha! That was some way of expressing, Deb. This post was hilarious. Can’t imagine how you kept a straight face when your BIL suggested the curry needed more spice. 😛 😀

    • Delighted you enjoyed it, Varsh. Thank you 😀 Oh yes, it was hard to keep a straight face, but the fact that my throat persistent demanded cold water helped 😀

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