In southern India, the chili pepper is traditionally believed to have supernatural powers. When hung over a doorway with a lemon, it can keep evil at bay. And, when combined with ash from the home's fireplace (as well as a few other herbs) and waved over someone's head, it can protect him or her from curses.
You may not believe that chilies have magical abilities, but we're certain of one thing they can do: make salt disappear from your table. That's because when you add the taste and tingle of fiery peppers to your food, your taste buds will be too preoccupied to notice the missing salt. If you're not accustomed to eating hot food, it's best to start slowly and gradually up the amount. Use a few red pepper flakes on your pasta or shake a dash of hot sauce on your eggs. Unlike salt, which we all tend to use too much of, a little chili goes a long way.
Chilies aren't the only way to turn up the taste temperature. You can also use wasabi (a Japanese horseradish), or harissa (a northern African chili paste). And those are just a few of the ways in which our global neighbors can contribute to the salt-reduction campaign, as we'll see next.