Happy international spicy food day – in celebration of the chilli!

Some chilli facts, our curry night, and why spicy food could be good for you!

Do you like spicy food? 16th January is international spicy food day and I’d like to celebrate by telling and showing you what we got up to at the weekend!

I’ll start off by saying that we like our food to be hot and spicy. I don’t even realise I’m doing it sometimes. Once, when cooking for friends, I put “a little sprinkling” of chilli flakes in a dish and sent one of them running for a drink! I didn’t think it was particularly spicy, so in part it’s just what you’re used to!

Here are a few spicy facts for you!

  1. If you eat something that’s too spicy, drink some milk. Water won’t help because it will just spread the burn to another part of your mouth. The casein protein in milk binds to the capsaicin in the pepper, which prevents it from binding to your tongue’s pain receptors.
  2. According to archaeologists, people have been eating spicy food for around 6000 years.
  3. Scoville heat units are used to measure the heat produced by hot foods such as chillis.
  4. If you were a bird, you wouldn’t get the fiery sensation in your beak when you pecked at a chilli because you’d be immune to its effects.
  5. Chilli peppers are a good source of vitamin C.

Pathia night

We’ve been getting spice boxes from the Spicery for about 3 years now. You may remember the review that I did last year.

I don’t post about them every month, but we cook them every month – It’s a kind of stay-at-home date night idea. We cook the food together and then enjoy what we’ve made. The curry night box serves four, so we make two meals for two out of it. There are also other boxes if you prefer, such as street food, date night, curry favourites (more well-known dishes than the ones we get), and I believe there is a vegetarian option too. You can buy individual meals, or set up a subscription. If you don’t fancy the meal that has been chosen for one particular month, you can swap to one of the other boxes for that month.

You still need to buy the main ingredients yourself, but all the ingredients that are harder to get have been measured out, ground, and packaged up for you.

I like it because I wouldn’t have a clue how to make a lot of the dishes that we’ve tried, but you also get a step-by-step recipe that shows you how it’s done.

Sunday night was Pathia night. Pathia curries mix sweet, sour and hot flavours because there are sweet mangos, sour lemons and not one, but two types of chilli powder! I suppose if you wanted to, you could make it less hot by not adding the crumbled, dry-fried chillis at the end, but we didn’t want to do that!

Our meal consisted of the Pathia curry, red cabbage palya, home-made poppadoms, mango pickle, and cardamom rice.

Really this was supposed to be a prawn dish, but we don’t like prawns, so we used chicken instead. This worked out fine – you just need to remember that if you swap out ingredients, you need to think about the cooking times too. Chicken cooks more slowly than prawns, so it needed to go in sooner. Occasionally I make small changes to the shopping list because of my allergies, but we didn’t need to change anything for this one.

I’m not usually a fan of cabbage, but I ate this dish because it soaked up all the other flavours. As a child, I really wasn’t a fan of vegetables, but I eat so many more now that I know how to spice them up a bit!

If you’re interested in the pathia kit, you can get it here rather than as part of a subscription.

So, will you be doing anything to celebrate international spicy food day? What’s your favourite spicy dish?

I’ll leave you with an article from the BBC about chillis because I thought it was an interesting read!

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Postboxed – gifts that will fit through the letter box so you don’t have to worry

My review of Postboxed – gifts that slide through the letter box so the recipient doesn’t need to be at home to get them.

We’ve all been there – you are expecting the postman to bring you something nice, only to find one of those “sorry you weren’t at home” cards which means you’ll either have to go and collect it, arrange a redelivery, or hunt around for where it might have been slung.

One of the benefits of working from home is the ability to indulge in my online shopping habit and know that I’ll be in most of the time to take in the delivery. In fact, our usual postman knows me quite well by now! He even waits for me while I make a mad dash for it down the stairs, whereas some of the other delivery drivers are already halfway back to the gate by the time I open the door.

Of course even I get caught out sometimes. It’s usually the parcel delivery companies. I had a note to say that the parcel was either on my property or with one of the neighbours – massively helpful, particularly when you’re blind! In the end I enlisted the help of my sighted partner, but even he didn’t see it straight away because it had been chucked behind the wheelie bin. I guess I should count myself lucky it wasn’t in the bin – my Nan once had that happen to her new jacket.

Anyway – enough moaning – the reason I’m telling you this is because I recently discovered Postboxed, a new gift service that takes away the problem of the recipient needing to be in, because all of their gift packages fit through the letter box.

I think this is a great idea for 3 reasons:

  1. You don’t need to worry about your friend being in (I’ve had cryptic conversations about whether I’d be in on a certain date because flowers were coming)
  2. The gifts are packaged for you – so there are no trips to the post office (really handy for my business now that Christmas is coming up – I believe they even ship internationally)
  3. you can either put your own box together or choose from one of the themed boxes that have been put together with specific types of people in mind (coffee lovers, cyclists, women, gin lovers etc).

I decided to order two boxes to try them out.

Firstly, S and I enjoy cooking spicy food, so I got the foodie matchboxes for us to try some serious chilli! You get 3 match boxes. The first contains a bottle of the 2014 chilli world champion, Carolina Reaper chilli powder and some very, very spicy chocolate! In the second matchbox, there are four of the world’s most expensive spices: 1 jar of sargol Persian Saffron, 1 jar of premium Madagascan Vanilla, 1 jar of true Ceylon Cinnamon, and 1 jar of fragrant Indian Cardamom. I haven’t used all of them yet, but I put the cinnamon into a meat dish and it was very good. The 3rd box contains 1 jar of Scorpion Moruga (2,000,000 SHU) chilli powder (the current World Champion), 1 jar of Scorpion Butch T (1,500,000 SHU) chilli powder, 1 jar of 7 Pot (1,300,000 SHU) chilli powder, and 1 jar of Ghost powder (1,000,000 SHU) (Naga Bhut Jolokia) chilli powder. No, I hadn’t heard of them either, apart from the ghost chilli, but they are some of the hottest chilli powders in the world. Yes, the bottles are tiny to fit in the matchbox, but believe me, you really don’t need much! I used just one of them to make a batch of spicy meatballs, which we really enjoyed, but I wouldn’t have needed any more. Tip – the little jars are well-packed with cute little corks, so if the powder doesn’t all come out when you open it, get something thin and pointy like a bamboo skewer to make sure you don’t waste any.

If you have food lovers in your life who like it hot, I think this makes a really interesting and original gift.

The other box I got was one that I put together myself. There was a box for chocolate lovers, but I am not a fan of salt and chocolate together. This box was slightly larger because I ordered four bars of chocolate, but I read that if you put too much in your box, the order will be sent in two letterbox-friendly boxes. My boxes didn’t come through the letter box because the postman had a bunch of other stuff for me, but I measured them afterwards and they would have fit.

Anyway back to the chocolate! I got things that I’d never heard of before because I was intrigued and wanted to try them. So there was some roast espresso chocolate, honey milk chocolate, lavender chocolate, and orange, geranium and lemon chocolate.

The bars work out at around £5 per bar, but you are getting good quality chocolate, and the bar is a fair size too.

I learned by this that you should never judge a bar by its name. I fully expected the coffee to be my favourite, as I’m a lover of all things coffee, but actually it was the lavender that I liked most. I was really surprised by this. I mean, lavender is something you put in the bath or you use lavender oil before going to bed, but I never knew that you could put it in chocolate too and that it would taste so good! The coffee bar was good too, although I think I would have preferred a bit more coffee in it. I’d never had honey chocolate before and I would definitely get it, and the orange and lemon one, again. I was a bit worried about the geranium in the latter, but it tasted more citrusy, and not as though I were eating flowers!

From an accessibility point of view, I could browse products and place my order myself, without getting frustrated or needing to ask for sighted assistance because of inaccessible design, something which access technology users can’t take for granted. This good user experience is another reason why I would return.

So, if you’re looking for an unusual gift now that Christmas is coming up, or maybe you’d like to treat a special someone, you’ll find plenty of variety on Postboxed. I went for the foodie options, but there are also books, tea towels with information about particular topics of interest, alcohol, tea, socks, and jewellery to name a few other options.

The boxes were not PR samples, which means I paid for the products myself, but as I was so happy with the service and the quality of the products, I have become an affiliate, so the links are affiliate links.

So, have you heard of or used this service before? What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments!

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