If your mouth feels like it catches fire when you taste even mildly hot foods, don't worry. These tolerance-building tips from Serious Eats may open up a world of new and vibrant flavours for even the biggest spice wimps (like myself).
Photo by Vimal Raveendran.
One technique to try is to substitute whole chillies instead of ground spices in recipes. Buy fresh whole chillies, de-seed them and remove the inner ribs, using gloves while doing so:
To de-seed, lop off the top half-inch of the stem end with a knife and dump out loose seeds. Rub the chilli between your fingers to dislodge more seeds (wear latex gloves while doing this if you're really sensitive), then split the pepper in half lengthwise (like splitting a vanilla bean) and pick out the pale ribs.
The article also suggests spices and sauces for newbies to try as they build up their tolerance: fruity hot sauces or fiery ones like harissa -- in small doses, absorbed with meat and starches and balanced with acids, sugar and fat.
Check out the full article for more great tips on getting started on your journey towards becoming a spicy food eater.
Spice Hunting: How to Increase Your Spice Tolerance [Serious Eats]