Mirchi Ka Salan Recipe (Indian Spicy Food)
I think I've said it many times: my husband's late grandmother (I called her Baji) was an exceptional cook. She used to make a specialty from Hyderabad called mirchi ka salan very often for my father-in-law. He absolutely loves spicy food. I know Daddy misses Baji's cooking, so I try to make his favorite dishes as often as possible.
The dish is very spicy due to the use of a large quantity of chiles (mirchi in Urdu) and the sauce (salan) is the same masala sauce made of onions and Indian spices that is used in many other Indian dishes. For this particular dish, you don't want to go over-board and use fiery chiles such as Habaneros. I chose milder Anaheim peppers. Finally, if you’re afraid of the heat, don't forget to accompany this dish with a tall glass of lassi to soothe your taste buds.
Yields: 8 servings8 Anaheim green peppers
1-½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
1 shallot, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup unsalted raw peanuts, shelled but with skin still on
1-½ teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons tarmarind concentrate (see tips)
1-½ teaspoons ginger garlic paste (click on the link for the recipe)
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 tablespoons fresh coconut, shredded
2 teaspoons jaggery (see tips), shredded
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon red chili powder
6 sprigs cilantro (optional), for garnish
Dry toasting the peanuts, coconut and sesame seeds:
In a pan, dry toast the peanuts over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool completely. Remove the skins.
Repeat the same procedure with sesame seeds and coconut powder until slightly golden (about 2 minutes).
Making peanut flour and sesame powder:
Grind the peanuts in a blender or a grinder (I use a coffee grinder that I keep exclusively for spices). The peanuts should turn into a fine mill, but make sure you stop before it becomes nut butter.
Repeat the same procedure with the toasted sesame seeds.
Prepping the Anaheim peppers:
Wearing disposable gloves, trim the stems. Using a long-stemmed thin spoon or a paring knife, delicately remove and discard the seeds. Note: remember not to rub your eyes after touching chile pepper seeds. Make sure not to pierce the chile; leave the flesh intact.
In a medium-sized deep saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place the Anaheim peppers and roast them for about 3-4 minutes until the skins blister but don't darken. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Do not over-cook, as they will finish cooking in the masala sauce. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels.
Making masala sauce:
In a bowl, combine the ground peanuts, coriander, coconut powder, sesame seeds and ¼ teaspoon red chili powder. Add the tamarind paste; it should form a thick paste (add a little water if necessary).
Stuff the inside of each chile with a little of the masala paste, reserving the rest for the sauce.
In the same medium-sized deep saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and shallots. Cook for about 5 minutes until they become translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste, remaining chili powder, turmeric powder and cumin seeds. Stir well until fragrant. Add the garam masala, the remaining thick masala paste and a little water (about ¼ to ½ cup). Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 8-10 minutes; add the jaggery and more water if necessary (up to 1 cup). Add the Anaheim chiles to the masala sauce, season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook at a gentle simmer for about 5-8 minutes. The chiles should be soft but shouldn't fall apart. Add the yogurt and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add more salt (if necessary). Transfer to a serving bowl.
Garnish with cilantro (optional).
Serve warm with roti (Indian flat bread).
Shredded coconut gives a rich, creamy texture to the sauce. I used fresh coconut. First, I opened the coconut using a cleaver. Be very careful if you do. (I usually lay out some newspaper underneath a large wooden cutting board). Then scrape out the coconut flesh using a coconut grater.
I buy raw peanuts at the Asian store. It's important to pick peanuts with the skin on; that way they don't burn while being dry-toasted.
You can find tamarind concentrate in any Asian store. It has a nice tart flavor. You can also use fresh tamarind pods if you like but I find this to be labor intensive. Wash about a pound of tamarind pods, with the skin still on. Boil them in about 4 cups of water for 15 minutes until soft. Drain and discard the liquid. Shell, seed and remove the fibrous membrane. Blend the tamarind pulp with about 1-½ cup of water. But as I've said before, I just prefer eating fresh tamarind as is and cooking with tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder.
Ginger garlic paste is a very common component in Indian cuisine. If you have extra, just transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
I buy jaggery, also known as gur (palm sugar) from the Indian store. It comes in large chunks that are usually sold by the jar. If you can't find any, you can use brown sugar or regular granulated sugar instead.
You can find all the ingredients listed above in most Indian stores.Published By: on July 20, 2010.