Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mirchi Ka Salan - not for the faint hearted

I love regional cuisines especially if I can try them at the source. Every place is known for its authentic dishes and based on the freshness of the ingredients and the cooking method adopted, the dish gets that very individual flavor. I have been to Hyderabad 4 times so far and it has always been a packed visit spending time with family and friends and we get fed so much at each place we go to, I have never had the opportunity/time/need to eat at an authentic Hyderabadi joint. I am still waiting for my turn to enjoy the famous Hyderabadi biryani (vegetarian version) and the mirchi ka salan and end with a dessert of double ka meetha. Yes, while all these are on my top 100(00) things to do before I die, for now I make them my way with generous help from other bloggers and cook books.

Searching for the mirchi ka salan recipe some time back I came across many links, some looked authentic and some didn't, Here & here are a some I noticed, took help of and then made some variations of my own. I have made this many times over the last couple of years and my family likes it this way. I make the gravy not very spicy because the mirchies/chilies are meant to provide the heat, you can adjust the spice quotient to suit your taste buds.

Typically a thicker skinned green chili such as Jalepeno or Anaheim varieties are used in this recipe so it gives the dish the required heat and also holds the shape under cooking. These are not made with the regular small Thai green chilies. My backyard garden is not where I want it to be yet but I still had some nice hot peppers growing from the plant and DD called dibs on it from the first day we noticed the small flowers as she loves her mirchi ka salan with chapati. A couple of years back, she never ate the chilies but dipped her chapatis in the gravy (like she does in most gravies) but lately has graduated into a few bites of the chili itself. Time just flies..

Coming back to the recipe, it is very simple and I cut down on the oil content drastically and let the other ingredients play center stage. While this may not look like it is served from a Hyderabadi restaurant since you don't see oil floating around the corners, nevertheless the taste is fantastic and makes you go back to the dish for second helpings. I usually like fresh spices in my recipes and hence fry the masala, you can use ready made powders as replacement if you like. I added a small green bell pepper I had got from a farmer's market to the home grown hot peppers this time. For all the hype created, at its core this recipe is roasted chilies floating in sauced up, glorified peanut chutney and is very easy to prepare. If you haven't tried it, go ahead and give the recipe below a shot.
What do you need to make Mirchi ka Salan? 
6-8 fresh chilies (jalepeno or other hot peppers)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tsp oil
1+1/4 cup water
Masala ingredients:
Small piece of tamarind or 1/2 Tsp tamarind concentrate
1X1 inch piece ginger root
2 Tblsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen) - optional but recommended
To roast:
3/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 Tsp coriander seeds
2-3 pieces of 1 inch cinnamon sticks
1 clove
1 dry red chili (adjust to taste)
2 Tblsp chopped onions
How do you make Mirchi ka Salan? 
  • Remove the stem end of the chilies and scoop out the seeds (this is optional based on your heat tolerance).
  • Roast the peanuts and sesame seeds separately on medium heat until they start to pop, keep aside.
  • Roast the coriander seeds, cinnamon, clove, red chili(if using) until you get a nice aroma, keep aside. 
  • Heat 1 Tsp of oil in the same pan and fry chopped onions for a couple of minutes until it turns soft. 
  • Take all the ingredients under masala ingredients and blend them to a smooth paste with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Add the remaining Tsp of oil to the pan and arrange the chilies in it. Let it roast until dark colored blisters form on the skin, flip them over and roast on the other side. Keep aside. 
  • Add the ground masala to the pan, add salt and water to adjust the consistency. Remember the gravy thickens quite a bit as peanuts cook. Start with a pouring consistency. 
  • Taste and adjust any spices and let the gravy come to a gentle boil. 
  • Add the yogurt and continue to boil for another couple of minutes. 
  • Add the fried chilies, mix well and switch off the stove. 
  • Let the chilies soak in the gravy for atleast 30 minutes before serving.
  • You can use bell pepper in this dish for a milder taste, cut the bell pepper in half, remove seeds and chop each half into 2 pieces lengthwise. Follow the same process as above. 
  • Make sure you roast the chilies well until the skin has big brown spots and also do not cook them for long in the gravy. They need to be crunchy to the bite when you eat them.
  • You can add garlic to the masala but I like to keep the peanut flavor in this and not overpower it with other ingredients. 
  • Peanuts & sesame seeds can be toasted in microwave by spreading them in a wide MW safe dish, you will have to try out the timings on your device as this depends on the power settings. Mine usually takes 4 MW runs of 3-2-1-1 minutes each. 
  • If your yogurt is sour, reduce the quantity of tamarind or skip it. Use only plain yogurt. 
  • If you noticed in the above steps, there is lot of scope for using just one pan, start with the wide pan in which you can fry the masala ingredients and also cook the mirchi ka salan to reduce your cleaning effort later on. 


Prathibha said...

You should try paradise biriyani,salan and also the qubani ka meeta..yumm yumm..I make sure to visit that place when I go to version is slightly different from this(but almost similar) and would post it soon...yumm yumm

Nagashree said...

Prathibha, Great to see the quick comment, and thanks for the tips on places to try. I will definitely talk to you before my next visit :-). Look forward to your version.

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Even though I lived in Hyd for 2 years, I couldn't taste the famous Hyderabadi biriyani (veg)...actually I couldn't find a decent vegetarian restaurant anywhere near where I lived...but I too have tried my version of both the biriyani and salan..and our family loves it.

Like your version

NamsVeni Pothas said...

fantastic recipe with mirchi. konchem khaaram... konchem sweet a wonderfull dish !!

Priya said...

Am yet to prepared this famous Hyderabadi mirchi ka salan, seriously inviting and looks super rich and nutty.

Priya R said...

lovely explanation and delicious dish will sure try this.. first time to your blog and happy to follow you. Do visit me

Nagashree said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments, am having a great weekend with family. Hope you are enjoying yours too.

Kalyan said...

looks delicious & mouthwatering!

Jay said...

very interesting recipe..thanks for sharing dear..:)
Tasty Appetite

Daksha said...

Hi Nagashree, Spicy and tempting Mirchi ka salan!! that looks pretty...