Monday, December 21, 2009

Mirchi ka salan

The first time I had 'Mirchi ka Salan' was at a restaurant near my office in Chennai with friends and absolutely loved it. I ordered it again the next time I went there. One day, my colleague in the US, Latha, brought it for lunch and I thought I'll make it at home, but that did not happen. I am in Chennai now at my mom's place. My mom had bell peppers which she wanted to cook the same day. She was going to cook drumstick leaves and she said she is going to add bell peppers to that. I love bell peppers and felt it would be a weird combination with drumstick leaves. So, I told her I'll make something with the bell peppers and the first thing that came to my mind was 'Mirchi ka salan'.

Mirchi ka salan is a Hyderabadi side dish that is served with rice and biriyani. It is prepared with mild varieties of peppers like Anaheim, Poblano, bell peppers, banana peppers and sometimes Jalapenos. In Chennai, it is generally prepared with 'Bajji molagai'. The original recipe uses a flat-bottomed copper vessel and is covered with dough while cooking over low heat to enrich the flavours. The roasted and ground spices makes it so aromatic and it has a wonderful nutty flavour from sesame seeds and peanuts.

Bell peppers - 1 lb cut into large cubes
Oil as required
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Juice of a small (1/2 lime sized) piece of tamarid

To grind set 1:
Onion - 1 large diced
Tomato - 1 large diced
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 4-5 cloves

To grind set 2:
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Red Chilies (whole) - 5 - 6 or to taste
Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Peanuts - 2 tbsp

Dry roast cumin, coriander and sesame seeds separately and grind all set 2 ingredients together. In little oil saute cubed bell peppers until slightly wilted, remove and set aside. In the same vessel heat some more oil and fry ginger, garlic, onion and tomato. Cool, grind and set aside. Heat little oil, add curry leaves and once the spluttering stops, add mustard seeds and allow it to crackle. Lower the heat and then add ground set1 paste and mix well. Next, add ground set2 powder, salt, turmeric powder and tamarind juice, mix well and bring it to boil. Now add the sauteed bell peppers and allow to boil for 30 seconds, remove from heat and enjoy hot with rice.

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