Why is Indian Food so Spicy

Why is Indian Food so Spicy?

Due to its unique flavors, spices, and ingredients, Indian food is famous globally. The country’s traditional and regional cuisines offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. Trade, migration, and colonization have shaped Indian cuisine, making it fascinating. 

When you hear “Indian Food”, the word “spicy” will automatically come to your mind. These two are a perfect combo. One of the most unique characteristics of Indian food is its spices.  So, you are probably wondering why is Indian food so spicy. In this blog, we will explore the reasons, impacts and importance of spices in Indian cuisine.

Historical Perspective

Indian spicy food has a 5,000-year heritage. Trade, migration, colonization, and regional and cultural diversity shaped it. Ancient Indians used spices for their medicinal and food-preserving abilities. Regional cuisines used a range of spices with different flavors and health advantages.

India’s location at the crossroads of trade routes from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia made it a spice hub. Chili peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes were introduced during colonialism. The cuisine immediately accepted these. Indian food is still known for its skillful use of spices. Spices give Indian food its particular flavors and fragrances.

Historical Perspective of spicy indian food

The Spices of Indian Food

Here is a list of spices that play a big part in making Indian dishes taste stronger and spicier:

1. Green Chillies

It’s true that green chiles weren’t always an ingredient in Indian dishes. They arrived in India between 400 and 500 years ago when the country was ruled by the Portuguese. This item influenced Indian cuisine in countless ways. It has become one of the most essential items in Indian kitchens.

Green Chillies

2. Red Chili Powder

Most places in the west know Indian food by its bright red color. This comes from a mildly spiced chili called Kashmiri chili powder. This is less spicy than usual chili powder.

In traditional Indian kitchens, each family makes its own spice blend from different red chilies. Most homemakers mix this spicy spice blend with regional red chilies. It is the only spice blend that determines the spiciness of any curry or similar dish.

Red Chili Powder

3. Black Pepper

In the early centuries, the Mughals and Europeans traveled to India because of that one spice.

Before black pepper was mostly used to spice up dishes. But chilies have replaced its places in Indian food. Still, peppers remain as important in most blends of Indian spices.

Black Pepper

4. Other Spices

Spicy foods can also be made with other whole spices. Such as cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, cardamom, etc. These spices have their own smell and taste that make the dishes taste better and spicier.

5. Garam Masala Powder

Another common ingredient in most Indian dishes is Garam Masala powder. Usually, it is made with different whole spices and is used to add flavor to food.

Garam Masala Powder

6. Red Onions

Red onions are used in almost every savory dish Indian make in the kitchen. The taste of red onions is different from that of white onions. Red onions have a strong flavor that makes Indian dishes more impactful.

Red Onions

7. Ginger-Garlic Paste

Ginger-garlic paste has become a popular way to improve the taste of many Indian dishes. This paste wasn’t a big part of ancient Indian food, but it has become more popular in recent years. This gives these dishes a zesty taste most of the time.

Ginger Garlic Paste

These are the main elements that provide Indian food with its spicy taste. But luckily, there are ways to cut down on the amount of spice in your dishes.

Spicy Vs Spicy Hot

Are all Indian dishes spicy? Here’s where everyone needs clarification. Spicy and spicy hot Indian food are two different things. Most Indian dishes are spicy. This means most of them to have spices like cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, and turmeric in them. It gives them a certain flavor and aroma. And there are other dishes that have an abundance of chili added to them. These are spicy hot dishes. You have to understand these differences to clear the misunderstanding. Yes, almost all Indian dishes are spicy but only a few of them will give you fire-breathing abilities!

Relation Between Indians and Spicy Foods

Spices offer mouthwatering flavors and powerful antibacterial capabilities. They can eradicate 75% of germs. It has been scientifically shown that spices keep food from spoiling. During the old time, the refrigerator was not an option. So, our ancestors used spices in almost every dish. Spicy dishes have a naturally delicious flavor when prepared properly. 

There is an additional reason for the popularity of spicy food among Indians. The satisfaction that comes with being able to stomach and handle one’s spice. Many Indians who enjoy such foods are proud of their high spice tolerance. They often compete with their friends.

Relation Between Indians and Spicy Foods

Regional Variations

Indian food is renowned for using a wide variety of bright spices. Due to its popularity, you can taste regional Indian dishes globally. Indian restaurants like Red Onion serves authentic regional Indian dishes. Regional variations in geography, temperature, and cultural factors all affect how spicy an Indian dish is. Below is a breakdown of some of the spice levels in Indian food:


North Indian cuisine frequently has creamy, mellow foods. They use a mix of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves that add flavor without making the food hot. Similar to this, meals from eastern India’s states of West Bengal and Odisha frequently employ mellower spices like turmeric and cumin. Examples: Butter Chicken (North Indian cuisine), Chhena Poda (Odisha cuisine), Aloo Posto (Bengali cuisine), etc.


The food from the western region of India, which includes Gujarat and Rajasthan, tends to be hotter than that from the north. Red chiles and cumin are frequently used here, giving food a medium amount of spiciness. In South India, foods typically have a medium level of heat from spices like curry leaves, mustard seeds, and black pepper. Rajasthani Laal Maas (Rajasthan cuisine), Gujarati Kadhi (Gujarat cuisine), Dosa (South Indian cuisine), etc.


Certain parts of India are renowned for their incredible spiciness and heat in their food. For instance, Andhra Pradesh cuisine frequently uses fiery red chilies, which results in the hottest Indian food. Similarly to this, South Indian food is renowned for its intense usage of black pepper, ginger, and green chilies, making it highly spicy. Andhra Chicken Curry (Andhra Pradesh cuisine), Chettinad Chicken (Tamil Nadu cuisine), Vindaloo (Goan cuisine), etc.

Depending on personal tastes and preferences, the quantity of spice in Indian cuisine can vary within regions. When ordering, it’s usually a good idea to enquire about the degree of spice in the meal. Especially if you don’t typically like spicy food. But if you have a low spice tolerance, Red Oninion restaurant can adjust the spice level to your preference.


The answer to the question of why is Indian food so spicy is they use various spices in their food. These spices make the food more flavorful and spicier. And who doesn’t love good and flavorful foods!

India has a long history of using and trading spices, which led to the creation of distinctive spice blends and cooking methods that are now an essential component of Indian food. Moreover, India’s hot and muggy atmosphere might promote the development of spicier plants, which adds to the nation’s love of spices.

Ultimately, Indian food’s heat is a reflection of the nation’s lengthy history, distinctive terrain, and cultural ideals. It is impossible to ignore the rich and complex nature of Indian cuisine, whether you enjoy spicy food or not.