Mirchi ka Salan – Green Chilli curry
Mirchi ka salan is a very flavorful gravy that can be served with biryani or pulav/pilaf. This recipe is a perfect example of the south Indian influence on the Nizam’s cuisine. ‘Mirchi’ is a Hindi word for ‘Chillies’. Don’t let the name deceive you, the heat of the chillies is perfectly balanced by the coconut, peanuts, sesame and tamarind. It is the flavor of the chillies that stands out, rather than the heat. In the US, I have found Anaheim chillies to be perfectly suitable for this recipe. These chillies are very mild, and most importantly they have very thin skin and not too much flesh. Jalapenos and green peppers are not suitable for this dish. Try to get anaheim, if they are unavailable, use poblano or banana peppers. There are many recipes for making the salan, this is just my version. I shallow fry the chillies instead of deep frying you see in most recipes. I also use tomatoes for their sweetness instead of the jaggery. This is a perfect complement to all my rice dishes.
Tip: If you are not fond of green chilli, you can go ahead and make this with tomatoes. Use small, firm roma (plum) tomatoes, cut the top (eye) off, scoop out the seeds and use the tomato shells instead of the green chillies and call it ‘Tamatar ka salan’.
Green chillies (Anaheim in USA) – 5-6
For the masala paste:
Dry coconut (unsweetened) – 1/2 cup (or Freshly grated coconut)
Sesame seeds – 2 Tbsp
Peanuts – 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 Tbsp
Coriander seeds – 3 Tbsp
Channa Dal – 1 Tbsp
Dry red chillies – 2-3 (optional)
Methi (fenugreek) seeds – 1/2 tsp
For the gravy :
Tamarind – 1 small lemon sized ball or Tamarind paste – 4-5 Tbsp
Onions – 2 medium (chopped/sliced)
Tomatoes – 2 medium (chopped)
Red chilli powder – to taste
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 Tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Oil – 5-6 Tbsp
Salt to taste
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Water – as required
For tempering :
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
- Dry roast all the ingredients for the paste separately and grind them together into a smooth paste, adding water. Also soak the tamarind in a cup of water and extract pulp.
Note: If you are using fresh coconut, dry roast it separately until it is golden brown and almost dry.
- Wash and towel dry the green chillies. Keeping the stem intact, slit the green chilies lengthwise. Heat oil in a pan/wok and shallow fry the green chillies in hot oil, until they are soft and almost cooked. Remove and keep aside (do not drain on paper towels). We will use the same oil for tempering and use all of the green chilli flavor!!
- Now in the same pan, add the ingredients for the tempering and let the mustard splutter. Add the chopped onions and a little bit of salt and cook until the onions are translucent. Now mix in the ginger-garlic paste and cook until the raw smell goes away.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until they are mushy. Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, the ground masala paste, tamarind pulp and salt to taste. Stir continuously for 5-10 minutes, to make sure the paste doesn’t stick to the bottom. Cook until you see the oil separating from the gravy.
- Now add water to adjust the consistency of the gravy (as thin or thick as you like) and then the fried green chillies. Add the garam masala, adjust the salt and red chilli powder (only if the chillies are not hot enough). Simmer for about 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.