Updated : This post has been re -edited, re- photographed and re-published.
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This recipe is a keeper for sure, over and over again I have made it, with same distinct and characteristic flavor. One more thing that I have discovered recently is that, the recipe that calls for curry leaves and the dish that has rich and complex flavor like this one, using a crushed and dried curry leaves in gravy can heighten the flavor many times.
With a tall list of ingredients and precise method, it looks very tedious but believe me it is worth every effort. Couple of days back, we once again enjoyed it with our guest and I took the opportunity to re shoot it once again.
Hyderabadi mirchi ka salan is a very well-known classic dish from the treasure of Hyderabad cuisines and is definitely not for the faint hearted . It needs lots of time, patience and passion for cooking. This single dish alone defines the criterion for a passionate cook.
It was in the paradise circle where I have heard it first, Paradise circle – a place for shoppers and foodies alike, it houses restaurants that serve good Hyderabadi biryani (though not best) and Irani chai cafe, then there was Dadoo’s who used to sell best Bengali sweets and the nearby General market for shopping, all in one place.
We ordered a Hyderabadi biryani and was looking for some accompaniments, when the waiter suggested this unusual dish called “mirchi ka salan“. Salan is Hyderabadi lingo for curry or gravy based dishes. I was new then, gradually soaking the taste of Hyderabadi cuisine, pushing my limits to absorb the spiciness of Andhra chillies, but mirchi ka salan, no way. We had it with raita or dahi chutney as they use to call it, and later treat ourselves with khubani ka meetha.
Few months later one of my colleague, brought this mirchi ka salan in her lunch box, and persuaded me to taste it. With much reluctant I had it with dosa and I oh yes … I loved it ! Popular notion is that it will be too spicy and hot, but no..it was mildly spiced (yes mild and not hot). The chillies lends a mild heat to the peanut – coconut based gravy, with rich and complex flavor, I was sure it is going to be on my list of recipes. By that time I have developed a taste for Hyderabadi cuisine and if you ask me about the hottest dish I ever had – it was the Nellore fish curry from Fishland in Ameerpet .
Coming to mirchi ka salan, I have tried it at home some three years back, I know it closely resemble to another signature dish of Hyderabad called baghara baingan (tempered eggplant), but was not able to recreate the taste. The dish seems to lack something, which I couldn’t figure out, and since it takes enormous time, I dare not repeat it again.
But a week before, when I again spotted this chillies in local market, I tempt to create it again, and this time I searched the web well, and it leads me to Zaiqa.net Instantly I liked the recipe, and the entire process of preparing it, which she described it so well, I decided to go for it..
Except the type of chilli I havent changed anything, rest of the recipe is in total sync with the original.
- Green chillies : 250 g
- Cumin seeds: 2½ tsp
- Curry leaves : few
- Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
- Nigella seeds: ⅓ tsp
- Fenugreek seeds: ⅛ tsp
- Poppy seeds : 1 tbsp
- White Sesame Seeds :2 tbsp
- Groundnuts / peanuts : ½ cup
- Freshly scraped Coconut : ¾ cup
- Dry roasted Coriander seed : 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds: 1½ tsp
- Dried and crushed curry leaves : 1 tsp
- Vegetable oil : 2-3 tbsp
- Onions – 2, large,
- Ginger garlic paste:2 tsp
- Turmeric powder– ½ tsp
- Cilantro / coriander leaves – 3 tbsp, finely chopped
- Thick tamarind pulp – 3 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Wash the green chillies (you will easily spot it in local market in South India), leave the stalk intact and pat them dry.
- Slit down the middle to top and discard the seeds with the help of a spoon. These tiny seeds of chillies are real cause of the spiciness.
- Since this recipe consumes lots of time, so try to do some time management.
- Heat a tawa or griddle and dry roast the scraped coconut, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, peanuts, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, all separately.
- While this is going on, heat another pan and roast the sliced onions till they turn brown. Add a pinch of salt to quicken the process of browning.
- Grind the roasted coconut, sesame, poppy seeds, peanuts, coriander seeds and cumin seeds all separately in a small masala grinder / mixer. Keep it aside.
- Grind the roasted onions (remember to cool it before putting in a mixer) to a fine and smooth puree.
- Now heat some oil in a pan up to smoking hot and add the chillies carefully. As soon as the chillies comes in contact with hot oil, blister will form on its surface.
- Lightly toss the chillies in hot oil and with the help of a slotted spoon, take them out and drain on a tissue paper.
- To the same oil add the spices meant for tempering and let them splutter for few seconds.
- Add the pureed onion and mix it well, so that the roasted onion can absorb the flavour of spices.
- Fry for some time on a low heat and add next the ginger garlic paste. Let it fry for couple of minute.
- Next add the coconut paste, freshly ground sesame powder, poppy-seed powder, peanut and stir fry for few more minutes until the oil separates out.
- Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and a pinch of salt. Stir fry it for few more minute until the rawness of peanut and coconut disappear.
- Add the cumin, dried curry leaves and coriander powder and mix well.
- Add around 3 cups of water and the diluted tamarind pulp. Mix thoroughly, gently add the tossed green chillies to it , stir it and cover, simmer it for 20 minutes till done.
- At the end chillies should be soft, intact and well absorbed in the creamy masala gravy.
- Serve the hot mirchi ka salan with Hyderabadi biryani, the best accompaniment it can get.
- Nevertheless it taste good with steamed rice or plain roti / paratha.
Verdict: It was simply fabulous. The soft and luxuriant textured chillies soaked in the creamy and mildly spiced sesame-coconut-peanut gravy with a hint of sweet and tangy tamarind will definitely entice you.
Small change in the recipe - Use dried and crushed curry leaves in the gravy to heighten the flavor.