Brick Lane Curry House, a restaurant in New York city, challenges people to try and down a whole bowl of the world’s hottest curry, in their now famous Phaal Curry Challenge.
Phaal curry is reputed as the world’s spiciest curry, and the restaurant’s website describes it as an excruciatingly hot curry, more pain and sweat than flavor”, but that’s just what draws people to the Brick Lane Curry House. People like to prove to themselves and others that they can do incredible things, and eating a whole serving of Phaal curry is pretty incredible. Just so you can get an idea of how hot this Indian concoction really is, you should know the chef cooks it with a gas-mask on, to protect himself from the fumes, and tastes it with his eyes closed.
Phaal curry contains 10 of the hottest chillies on the planet, including Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost Chilli, recognized as the hottest chili in the world. It ranks at 1,000,000 on the Scoville scale, and is the main ingredient of the “curry hand grenade” that the Indian military is working on. Just for reference, Tabasco sauce scores 5,000 on the Scoville scale.
But Phaal Curry is not only extremely hot, but also incredibly deceiving. After the first few spoons, you get the impression that you can actually take the heat, and finish the bowl, but soon you realize it’s just a slow, searing sensation that just gets stronger over time. Sweating, tearful eyes, and a numb tongue are all normal symptoms when eating Phaal curry. One person even got a nose bleed while doing the Phaal Curry Challenge.
Restaurant staff say they always advise customers to just taste the curry before deciding they want to go through the whole thing. but most of them just want to do it. It’s not an impossible challenge, and the restaurant’s P’hall of Fame, featuring the photos of the people who finished, stands as proof. They aslo received a free beer and a certificate stating their memorable achievement. Just over 10% of daredevils actually go through the whole bowl of Phaal Curry.
Photos via Serious Eats