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Winter warm-up: Fiery dishes to try

These meals from around the world will put some fire in your belly!

On a cold winter day, there’s nothing better than a hot meal. And a spicy meal can really warm you up as well. Spicy food spans borders all over the world. If you’re traveling, you can find delicious dishes packing plenty of heat, no sweat—until you start eating! 

From spicy chicken in the Caribbean to sauce with sautéed chili peppers in Italy, here are some of the best warming meals from around the globe:   

We’re starting with one of the spiciest!

The Food: Jerk Chicken

The Heat: 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 

The Lowdown: This isn’t an insult, it’s a classic Jamaican dish with a powerful punch of spices. The chicken (or sometimes pork) is marinaded or rubbed with the spice mix—which usually includes Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers that are roughly 40 times hotter than a jalapeno! Jerk chicken is cooked on a fire while covered, so the smoky flavor seeps in.

 Where to get the best jerk chicken? On a trip to Jamaica of course!

Sometimes “spicy” doesn’t come from chili peppers.

The Food: Solyanka

The Heat: 🔥

The Lowdown: In Russia’s cold winters, sometimes you need a soup that’s more than just hot, but has a little kick! That’s Solyanka, which dates back to the 1400s. There are different versions of the soup—cured meat, fish, and mushroom—and while it’s not traditionally “spicy” like a chili pepper, each version has plenty of peppercorns, pickling brine, dill, lemon, and allspice to create a uniquely tangy meal. 

This dish is eaten throughout eastern Europe, but you can consider Russia the go-to for an authentic bowl. 

Indonesian people wouldn’t find it spicy…but visitors will!

The Food: Rendang  

The Heat: 🔥 🔥

The Lowdown: This super tender beef dish is popular throughout Indonesia, from the capital Jakarta to islands like Bali. Keep in mind, Indonesians wouldn’t rate this dish as spicy, but in the country that arguably uses the most chili peppers in the food, most visitors will find rendang to have kick, thanks to the gravy that includes ginger, garlic, shallots and dried chili peppers. 

One of the few traditionally spicy Italian pasta dishes.

The Food: Penne all’Arrabbiata

The Heat: 🔥 🔥 

The Lowdown: Italy is famous for delicious pasta, but it’s not really known for spicy meals. As with so much of Italian cuisine, it’s all in the sauce. Penne all’ Arrabbiata comes from Rome and kicks the pasta up a few notches because the tomatoes for the sauce are first in garlic and chili peppers. 

The lime juice helps “cook” this dish, but also cut the heat!

The Food: Aguachile

The Heat: 🔥 🔥 🔥 

The Lowdown: Let’s break the Spanish down for this one: “Agua” means water and “chile” is simply chili peppers. From the glowing green color, you may already have guessed that jalapenos and serranos are part of the sauce. 

But there’s a little more to it: lime juice, salt, cilantro, and cucumber. Similar to ceviche, the acidity of the lime juice is used to “cook” raw shrimp, though this dish is served as soon as it’s prepared.

You’ll be thankful for any added vegetables, like raw onions or avocado slices, that help to balance the heat! The dish was supposedly first made in the Mexican state of Sinaloa near Cabo San Lucas, so head to the west coast for the best aguachile.