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In English, you can say a dish is hot and spicy. "Hot" refers to the burning sensation from chilli and "spicy" is being flavoured with or fragrant with spice.

I know in Khmer you have a specific word for hotness of chilli and another for temperature. Using the "hot" for temperature when referring to dishes will not make sense.

In Spanish, is it valid to use "caliente" to refer to hotness of chillis (i.e. the burning sensation and not temperature)? Is there a one-to-one equivalent translation of "hot and spicy"?

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  • Caliente, picante y sabroso. Warm, hot and spicy.
    – roetnig
    Aug 28, 2018 at 10:05
  • I'm getting sabroso as tasty/delicious in the dictionary. Is it taken as spicy when used together with picante?
    – supmethods
    Aug 29, 2018 at 23:30

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In general, when speaking about food, caliente refers to temperature (for example, some soups are served hot and some are served cold). Picante refers to the burning effect of chile, garlic, pepper and other spicy ingredients. If you want to describe a dish or a variety of chile as being particularly strong, you would say

Pica mucho.

If it's too strong:

Pica demasiado.

If it doesn't contain any of this type of ingredient:

No pica.

If you suddenly feel uncomfortable because of eating some chile that's too strong for you, you would say

Me enchilé.

However, if you're speaking figuratively, sometimes the common way to say that something packs a lot of punch is caliente. For example, in the realm of salsa music (música tropical), English praise would be that the musicians were "cooking" and that the music was "hot." In Spanish you could use "caliente" in this context.

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  • So, the answer is no, you cannot use caliente to translate hot in hot and spicy. Both words can be picante in Spanish. Or, you can break it down into picante and something like con muchos condimentos.
    – Lambie
    Aug 26, 2018 at 14:10

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