The chicken biryani they served me was awesome: spicy, yet balanced, invigorating, exciting, right on the verge of pain. Perfect! But then I asked them for the truth. Sheepishly, not wanting to hurt my feelings, they gave it to me. If I hadn't been their guest, they would have used 25 green chilis instead of just 14. Even though I told them I like five-star spicy? Even so. After all, I was American.

Learn how to cook this dish in a March 8 cooking class. The recipe and class info is at

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