Mirchi Ka Saalan 2-Curried Green Chillies for Biryani
Mirchi ka Salan 2-Khatti Mirchi
This sauce is from Hyderabad state of India, the home of ‘Nawabs’. The cuisine here is very rich, influenced by Mogul cuisine, which has an exotic mix of spices, dry fruits and other rich ingredients, to give it a unique aroma. This sauce is used as an accompaniment to various dishes.
250 gm. finger thick and long green chillies
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds or rai
8-10 curry leaves (not bay leaves)
100 gm. natural yoghurt** or dahi
Salt to taste
2 heaped tbsp. tamarind purée* or pulp (imli)
1 tsp. chilli powder, only if your green chillies are not hot
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
35 gm. roasted peanuts (you can roast peanuts in a microwave, on full, for 3+2+2 minutes, stirring in between)
1 heaped tbsp. desiccated coconut
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp. sesame seeds (til)
2 tbsp. lime/lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves
*Tamarind purée can be bought in jars from Asian grocers. It is much better than the dark coloured tamarind concentrate, it is just tamarind pulp with fibrous bits removed.
Wash and wipe dry green chillies. Any water drops will make the oil splutter during frying.
Heat oil in a wok or pan and deep fry chillies. Remove and keep aside on kitchen paper, to drain off the oil.
Grind together onion, roasted peanuts, desiccated coconut, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and lime juice into a fine paste. You may need to add a little water.
Heat 2 tbsp. of the remaining oil from step two and add mustard seeds to it. When the seeds crackle, add curry leaves, stir for a few seconds and add the paste from step 3.
Stir fry the paste. It is easier to fry it in a non-stick pan. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water every few minutes and continue frying. Adding water during frying makes the sauce swell up and cook better. This takes approximately 10 minutes.
Add yoghurt and salt and stir for 3-4 minutes.
Add tamarind pulp and 2-3 tbsp. water. Continue to cook it for further 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it looks like a thick sauce.
Taste and chilli powder only if you want to make it hotter.
Add the fried green chillies from step 2, bring to boil.
Turn heat off, transfer to a bowl and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
**A few tips for cooking with yoghurt :
Always use full fat yoghurt, if possible. Skimmed milk yoghurt sometimes curdles during cooking. If you wish to use low fat yoghurt, add 1 heaped teaspoon of plain or corn flour per cup of yoghurt.
Make sure that the yoghurt is at room temperature. If chilled yoghurt straight from the fridge is added to a hot dish, it may curdle.
Or, take out a few tablespoons of the hot food in a bowl, mix yoghurt, warming it a bit and then stir it back into the hot dish.
Substitute sour cream for yoghurt, using only half the amount.