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The active ingredient in chilli is called capsaicin. Capsaicin attaches to the TRPV-1 receptors in your mouth to give it that ‘hot’ feeling.

Capsaicin acts on the neuroendocrine system as a mild stimulant, increasing the production of energy and even increasing utilisation of stored body fat. ‘TRPA1’ is a receptor found on cells all-round the body that capsaicin from chili binds to, causing that spicy hot sensation.

Receptors often have multiple roles depending on where they are in the body and TRPA1 is also responsible for maintenance of body temperature and pain sensitivity and is now being used as a target for pain relief, especially in cases of joint pain.


Serves 4 as an appetiser or 2 as a main

  • 1kg chicken on the bone: legs, thighs, drumsticks
  • A little olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, to dress
  • Half a lemon, to serve

For the marinade paste

  • 3 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper


Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning well. Score the chicken pieces with a sharp knife to a depth of 5mm and massage the marinade into the chicken.

Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (overnight is better). Either over charcoals or under a grill set to medium, place the chicken pieces on a rack with a drip tray underneath and grill for 10 minutes on both sides.

Remove from the heat and keep them on the rack, allowing them to rest for a couple of minutes until the juices have drained a little. Now use the ‘drip juices’ to baste the chicken, brush with a little olive oil, scatter the ginger matchsticks on top and cook for a further 3–4 minutes.

When done, scatter the toasted sesame seeds all over the chicken, covering well.

Best served hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.