Mirchi ka Salan – if you asked me to pick one dish, and only one, that stood out to me during my 2.5 years of life in Hyderabad, it would be Mirchi ka Salan. There, I said it, it’s not even the famous Hyderabadi Biryani but the underrated chilli based gravy that they serve with the biryani that stole my heart. I have tasted it in all kinds of places starting from the roadside biryani stalls to the really fancy restaurants. The wonderful thing about this seemingly humble side dish is that it looks very coy and innocent but is bursting with flavours. It’s spicy, sweet, salty, and a tad bitter all at the same time and holds its own with a dish like the mighty biryani. Also check out my baingan ka salan recipe.
I had made Mirchi ka Salan once before and at that time, I felt it was amazing (although I do say so myself). Now that my culinary intuitions are much better, I decided to give it another go recently. I referred a bunch of recipes and decided to go with my reading buddy Preethi’s recipe with a few minor changes from Vahchef and of my own. The pleasant surprise was that my Mirchi ka Salan was much thicker than the restaurant version and it went beautifully with plain rice, rotis, and even dosa. Since the gravy stores well for up to a week, this is definitely a win.
HYDERABADI MIRCHI KA SALAN RECIPE
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes ~ 2 cups
- 4-6 large green chillies (use the kind that has lesser heat, the larger the better)
- 2 tbsp of gingelly oil (Indian sesame oil)
- 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp of raw peanuts
- 2 tbsp of grated coconut (or use desiccated), optional
- 1/2 tsp of minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp of grated ginger
- 1 heaping tsp of coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp of jeera (cumin) powder
- 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 tsp of black mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds (methi)
- 1/2 cup of sliced onions
- A few curry leaves
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- 1 tsp of tamarind extract
- 1 dry red chilli
- 3/4 tsp of powdered jaggery or dark brown sugar
1. Wash and pat dry the green chillies. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide pan and lightly fry the chillies until they are charred and start to look softer. Drain and set aside on paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, In a dry skillet, roast the coconut until golden brown (if using coconut). Desiccated coconut will brown much faster so keep an eye on it as you fry.
3. In the same pan used for the chillies, add the peanuts and sesame seeds and roast until a shade darker, keeping flame very low. Once they are done, add the roasted coconut and mix well. Switch off flame and remove to a plate to cool.
4. In the same pan (we like to minimise washing, remember?), add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and the mustard seeds+ fenugreek seeds. When the mustards pop, add the sliced onions and red chilli torn into half. Fry until onions turn golden brown.
5. Next, add the curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Sautè for 30 seconds until fragrant.
6. Then throw in the red chilli powder, coriander powder, jeera powder, and some salt. Roast for 10 seconds and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a slow boil.
7. Meanwhile, grind the roasted coconut + sesame + peanut mixture with some water to a smooth paste. Add it to the simmering curry and mix well. Continue to cook on a low flame.
8. When the mixture is a bit thicker and simmering, add the jaggery and the tamarind extract dissolved in 1/2 cup water.
9. Mix well and add the green chillies we had sautéed and set aside. Cook covered on a low flame for 5-7 mins until the green chillies are soft. Add more salt if required.
10. If you find that the mixture is too watery, you can simmer longer, and if it’s too thick, add more water or tamarind water as required. How much you want to cook it down is up to your preference. I like it on the thicker side so I cooked it down a bit.
Making a Mirchi ka Salan is not the quickest thing you can do and it does involve a lot more ingredients than the average dish. But trust me when I say it’s worth it. The day I made this Mirchi ka Salan, I just made a Rice Cooker Vegetable Biryani so that I can fully focus on this dish. The combination along with a simple onion and cucumber salad was a winner!
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