Ahhh chillies… they sting, they burn, and yet Malaysians love to torture themselves with this plant. The Malaysian’s love affair with chillies transcends borders and cultures. We sacrifice precious luggage space for bottles of cili sos when we go abroad to study, play, or work. We weep tears of sorrow when we’re down to our last drop. We force feed our foreign friends sambal even though their taste buds can barely handle the heat.
Why is the almighty chilli so celebrated here in good ol’ Malaysia?
It makes you feel like you’re finally alive, for one. As you stick your tongue out and gulp down some water to chase away the pain, your taste buds tingle in the exhilarating ride you just put them through.
But besides the thrilling sensation it gives you, chillies also do your body some good.
Capsaicin, the compound in the chilli that gives it its strong spicy flavour, is armed with anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic (cancer-killing), analgesic (pain-relieving), and anti-diabetic properties. Chillies are also a great source of vitamin C (not only oranges provide that!), and are high in nutrients like calcium and vitamin A.
And guess what? The fiery plant not just burns your tongue, it also stimulates the release of endorphins (which makes you feel good). It helps to block inflammation in your body and numb you of your aches and pains.
Some people also believe that chillies help to curb your appetite and burn fat, although adding a bucket of chillies into your daily meal isn’t going to help if you also pile on more calories than your body needs (and constantly skip the exercise).
The chilli is an amazing plant, and it’s a shame if all we do with it is soak it in a vat of oil.
Here are five healthier (and very yummy) recipes that star our favourite spice. Enjoy:
1. Steamed Haruan Fish with Ginger, Turmeric & Kesom Leaves
2. Shanghai Dumplings with Chilli Dip
3. Nyonya-Style Chilli Fish with Ladies Fingers
4. Kung Po Chicken (Szechuan Chicken)
5. Brinjal Curry (Paceri Terung)
Not that keen on chilli? Check out some of our other healthy local recipes.
What’s your favourite dish starring the almight chilli? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!