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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What subscriptions do you have?

I talk about our subscriptions for beauty, food, and entertainment.

What subscriptions do you have?

When I started thinking about this post and adding up the subscriptions that we have, I was a little surprised. However we do use all of them. One is very new, so we’ll have to see whether we’re going to keep it.

The beauty ones are definitely mine, but the rest are ours as a household. Maybe there are some here that you didn’t know about.

Beauty

I have two beauty subscriptions. The first is Latest in Beauty. The great thing about Latest in Beauty is that you make your own box. You might not love everything you pick – that’s just the way it goes with trying new products – but you make the decisions about what goes into your box, so if there are types of products that you’ll never use, you never have to get them.

There are build-your-own boxes and curated boxes. If you build your own, you can get 3, 6 or 9 products. The more products you get, the cheaper they become. I look through the list once my payment is taken and select the things that I want. First I look for new and exciting things, then I look for things that I need, then I look for things that I’ve had before and really enjoyed. Some months it’s really hard to choose because there are so many things that I would like. Other months it’s a bit harder, like a couple of months ago when there were a lot of nail varnishes and tanning products, neither of which really interest me. But I’ve discovered a lot of cool stuff this way!

My second beauty box is Lovelula – the natural and cruelty-free beauty box. You can sign up for the monthly boxes (there are different pricing structures, so if you’re interested, check them out here.)

I like Lovelula because I want to use more natural and cruelty-free products, and this is a good way to try some new types of product and new brands in a way that’s cheaper than buying them full-price. There are sometimes one or two things in the box that I wouldn’t use, but I don’t feel that these are wasted because they go into swap boxes with other bloggers, into a blog prize draw, or I use them as gifts. If it got to the point where I was using only one or two of the products, that would be a problem, but as it is, I use most of them.

The other good thing about Lovelula is that you get a discount on the brands in the box each month, and if you really like something, you can buy it in the shop. This is different from Latest in Beauty because they have rolling stock, which means once something has sold out, it’s gone unless they bring it back again.

Both boxes provide a range of full-size and sample-size products, and particularly as someone who loves to try new things, they both work well for me.

Entertainment

We hardly ever watch TV in our house. If we watch anything, it’s usually Netflix, Prime video or a DVD. Oh and then there are all the beauty videos on Youtube, but fortunately they’re free!

At the beginning of last year, we weren’t sure whether to go for Netflix or Amazon Prime. Both of them were offering one month for free, so we tried them both out and continued both subscriptions, but for different reasons!

I’d say that we use Netflix more in terms of watching things – either together or on our own. There are some things that S watches that drive me crazy, and I’m sure he feels the same about some of my choices. You can set up individual profiles, so that the suggestions are based on what you actually like, rather than some random thing that another member of the household was watching. The number of people who can watch at any one time is based on the payment plan that you choose.

I usually just listen on my phone because I don’t need a screen. I really like the way that you can filter by audio described content, which is content that has an additional sound track for explaining to blind people what’s happening on the screen. When I’m watching on my own, I’m usually only interested in this type of content, and it’s nice that it can be pulled out into a separate list. I wouldn’t say we’re really heavy users of the service, but it’s nice to have it.

We do watch a few things on Amazon Prime, but there is less audio-described content on there and you can’t filter it as you can on Netflix. If Prime only had the option of Amazon Video, it probably wouldn’t be worth our while, but it gives you a number of other benefits too, which we definitely use:

  • Free next day delivery. This isn’t just cool because it’s quicker, although that is cool! It helps me to plan when the deliveries are coming so that they don’t arrive on a day when I have back-to-back meetings.
  • Free magazines – every month there is a range of magazines that offer one issue for free. You buy them for £0 on your Amazon account and then you can read them on the Kindle app, or presumably on your kindle (I don’t have one!) This doesn’t work if you want to read the same magazine every month, but if you have a more general interest, such as beauty or travel, you can usually find something to read.
  • Amazon music – most of the time I prefer listening to my own music – I haven’t really got on board with the stream on demand thing, but there are times when it’s good to put on someone else’s playlist, such as when I go running and want some upbeat, motivational music.
  • Extra free books on Audible – we’ll come to Audible in a minute, but when I signed up, being an Amazon Prime member gave me an extra 2 books for free.
  • Share with your household – I’m the Amazon Prime account holder, but S gets all of these benefits too because I linked both of our accounts to our household.

If you want to try out Amazon Prime free for a month, you can sign up here.

Finally we have Audible – a service for audio books. I love audio books! I used to read Braille books, but you can’t take a huge volume of Braille on the train with you, so in my commuter days I read a lot of audio books! They’re also good when you want to relax. S likes them too, so we often listen to books together as a change to watching films.

S bought me an Audible subscription last Christmas. I decided to continue it after the gift ran out, and then I got 3 more books because I’m an Amazon Prime member. Now I pay for them, but I think it’s worth it. I tend to go for longer books, so I can have several nights of entertainment for a similar price to, for example, a trip to the cinema.

You have to buy the books on the Audible site and then you can listen to them on the Audible app. You can’t buy books on the app. There are over 200,000 books to choose from, and the player lets you speed them up if that’s your thing!

If you sign up to the service, you are eligible to get one book for free, as long as you haven’t had a free book from Audible in the last year (3 free books if you’re an Amazon Prime member). If you like it, you keep the subscription going and you will be charged for a new credit each month. The credit is used to buy your next book. If you just want the free book, you can cancel your subscription within the first month – you won’t be charged, and you get to keep your book.

If you’re interested, you can use my Audible free trial link (If you are based in Germany, use my German link.

Food

And finally we come to food. We get a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box. There are a number of different options to suit different households and preferences, but you can read about our first three boxes here. I like the way that you don’t have to get anything that you don’t like, but you are introduced to seasonal produce and you might also have to find recipies for things you’ve never tried before, which keeps things interesting.

The other food subscription is the Spicebox. You can read a review about it here. Basically you are sent a box every month with little bags of spices and a recipe for a delicious curry. You have to buy the main ingredients in edition, but all the rare things are measured out for you, so you only buy what you need for the dish, the spice blends are already mixed, and you don’t have to trek round looking for things that aren’t sold in the supermarket.

S and I always cook and enjoy these together – a kind of date night in! You get one a month, and there’s usually an extra sachet with spices for another dish. You can find out more about the company on The Spicery’s web page.

How about you

What subscriptions do you have, and which are your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

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My review of our spice box subscription

Find out what I think of the monthly food subscription bx from the Spicery.

An interesting way to discover new dishes

In 2014, one of my boyfriend’s Christmas gifts was a 6-month subscription to the Spicebox from The Spicery. Our friends knew he liked curry and thought this would make an interesting gift. Well actually I stole my friend’s idea of what to buy him, so she had to come up with something else! Two years later, we have kept renewing the subscription and we’re still enjoying the boxes!

Each month you receive a box that contains a recipe along with various packets of spice and hard-to-get dry ingredients such as certain types of chillis. You buy the rest of the ingredients and then follow the instructions to create a range of delicious dishes.

We really like spicy food, so we choose the curry boxes, but there are other alternatives, such as world kitchen explorer, date night, and a meat-free option.

Our spice rack is fairly well-stocked, but some of the ingredients would be pretty hard to come by unless you went to specialist shops. With the spice box, the spices are measured out and ground for you, so you can just add them when necessary, with no hunting around for ingredients, and no wastage because you bought a big pot of something you’ll never use again.

Occasionally we swap ingredients out if there’s something I can’t have because of my allergy or something that neither of us like (fish curries often become chicken curries!), but generally we follow the recipes exactly. I think it’s a fantastic way to discover food from around the world – we’ve had meals from India, Pakistan, Thailand, Jamaica, and different countries in Africa. It also gives you the confidence to try making things that you would usually just buy in the shops, such as naan bread.

Each month you are given a preview of what’s in the box. If you don’t fancy that particular meal, you can swap to one of the other options. We don’t usually do this, but I think we’ve done it once or twice and it’s nice to have the option.

On Sunday we cooked Andhra Guntur Chicken with Tamarind Mango and Cauliflower. I’m not a fan of barely cooked cabbage, but everything else was really good – the spicy chicken curry, the tasty rice, and of course the mango made me happy! I’ve never eaten cauliflower that tasted so good. As a child, I thought I didn’t like vegetables. But the problem was that I don’t like bland vegetables. Once you’ve spiced them up, they’re delicious!

Obviously we’ve liked some curries more than others, but there hasn’t been one that we haven’t enjoyed.

In terms of accessibility, I think it might be difficult for a blind person to cook these meals without any assistance because even though you could scan the recipe, the spices are in little plastic packets, and although I haven’t tried it, I don’t think the shiny material would scan very well using OCR software to read the text. We either put a text copy of the recipe on my phone so that I can read it using Voiceover, or my partner reads it out as we complete the various stages, dividing up the tasks between us.

We enjoy cooking together, learning new skills and eating our creations afterwards. It’s a kind of stay-at-home date night! Ok, I know that not all couples would make a good team in the kitchen, but if you enjoy working together, it’s a fun thing to do and of course, as long as you follow the steps on the recipe, you get rewarded afterwards with some good food! If you like the sound of this, I would definitely recommend the Spicebox!

How about you?

Have you tried any subscription services such as the Spicebox? How do you discover new recipes and new things to try?

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.