Mirch Ka Salan

Srilatha Indian, Main Dish Leave a Comment

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Mirch Ka Salan
A complex dish with an unusual combination of spices, souring agents, and the star vegetable that's actually a condiment! I have made bhaghare baingan which is very similar, but made with eggplant/brinjal. This year, I am getting a bounty of slim, long green chilies in my garden and was searching online for suitable new recipes, and ran into this. I have never actually had this dish in a restaurant but decided to make it, since we love bhagare baingan. While looking for recipes, I did some research on the origins of the dish, and came across the fascinating story of how green chilies made their way into India. Hard to believe, but they are not native to India, considering how much every cuisine of India uses them, and how seamlessly integrated they seem, as to make one think they are native to India. Nope, just like tomatoes, they were brought to India by the Portuguese, specifically the famous Vasco da Gama who brought the saplings wrapped in moss as a gift -- he picked them up from Spain, Brazil and Africa! In return, he took home the precious black gold, aka pepper! Read all about how they made their way into Akbar's and all the kitchens of India in this story: http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/food-wine/food-story-the-saga-of-mirch-ka-salan/ By the way, I learned that Akbar was a staunch vegetarian! Wonders never cease, and Akbar continues to amaze me. This dish, with the influence of Karnataka, Telengana, and Marathwada cuisines, apparently appealed to Akbar's "unifying Hindustan" sensitibilites. I love food stories! On to the recipe now.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Ingredients For The Masala Gravy
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Ingredients For The Masala Gravy
Instructions
  1. Gather the chilies, wash and wipe them clean. Slit them through the middle, and deseed them. I like any dish hot, so didn't deseed. Make sure to keep the stem intact, and use gloves if you have sensitive skin
  2. Gather ingredients for the masala - keep the ones to be dry roasted separately
  3. Chop onions, ginger and peel cloves
  4. Heat 1 tsp of oil, and shallow fry the chilies very carefully (the seeds, if present could and would explode)
  5. Remove to a plate when the skin blisters and turns white in spots
  6. Heat a kadai, and dry roast coriander, cumin, and red chilies; remove to a plate to cool
  7. In the same pan, dry roast the sesame seeds, peanuts, and coconut; remove to a plate to cool
  8. Heat a teaspoon of oil in the same pan, and saute the chopped onions, ginger and garlic; remove to a plate to cool
  9. Once cool, blend all the masala ingredients to a paste, adding water as needed; the blend should be fairly thick, and not runny so use water sparingly (coriander, cumin, red chilies, sesame seeds, peanuts, coconut, onion, garlic, ginger)
  10. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan (this dish when made authentically, should float in oil; while I didn't use a lot of oil, I did use more oil than I normally use). Pop the mustard seeds, and curry leaves
  11. Add the masala paste, tamarind extract, a pinch of turmeric, and salt and cook on medium heat, stirring to ensure the gravy doesn't stick to the pan for about 8-10 minutes, or until the gravy leaves oil as it cooks;
  12. When the gravy is at this stage, add the fried chilies, and reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes.
  13. Mix gently without breaking the chilies; serve with hot steamed rice/rotis; I served with rotis, a simple carrot salad (grated carrots, tomatoes, cilantro, chilies, lime juice), baingan bartha, and a glass of salted buttermilk
Recipe Notes

Don't be daunted by the fairly long list of ingredients and the involved procedure. Almost all are commonly found in an Indian pantry, and I find all the roasting, cooling and blending therapeutic! 🙂  the results are definitely worth it.

From my research on this 500+ year old dish, this way is not the original recipe prepared in emperor Akbar's royal kitchens. It went through some changes, and what we have now is the version 2.0.

An authentic mirchi ka salan (green chilies in sauce) should be slightly brown in color due to the tamarind pulp.

The flavor profile of this dish is fairly complex: sour from the tamarind, nutty from the sesame and peanuts,  creamy from the coconut, and of course, pungent from the star ingredient, the green chilies!

I love this dish for its truly delectable flavor and taste. And for the history!

Try to use mild peppers - definitely stay away from the thai chili and other hot peppers.

If you don't have peanuts on hand, try with peanut butter. I have done that with the eggplant version and it was awesome!

This recipe is for my husband who loves it!

 

Fascinating history of this dish here

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