Dry Pepper Curry

Mirchon Ka Salan

My take on an old classic. Pepper curry is one of the dishes that evolved in the melting pot of Hyderabad Deccan under the princely Nizam dynasty of India. The cuisine is a unique blend of Turkish and Arabic foods of the Mughals with the local, southern Telugu and Marathi cuisines. It is a wide-ranging spread of finely prepared rice, wheat and meat dishes with spices and herbs, distinguishable by the use of tamarind, tomato, coconut, curry leaves, sesame seeds, nuts, jaggery. Ultimately, it is much loved due to its expert blending of salty, sweet and sour.

Mirchon ka salan is usually presented as a saucy curry. I have adapted it into a delicious dry version where all the ingredients stand out and can be served as an ideal side dish. Poblano peppers (the recommendation is to use peppers of medium-mild heat as to not overwhelm the palette) gave it a meatier taste and the addition of Serrano pepper increased the heat factor.

Coconut shards, whole peppers, sliced onions and sesame seeds

Ingredients:

  • 3 Poblano peppers (or any other medium heat peppers)
  • 1 Serrano pepper (or any hot pepper), deseeded and halved length-wise.
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp. coconut, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. peanuts
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt to taste.
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp. tamarind, pre-softened in water
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. Over an open flame, smoke the poblano peppers until the skin starts to singe. Allow to cool, then wash, deseed by slitting down the middle but make sure to leave it attached at the stem.
  2. Dry roast the peanuts, coconut and sesame seeds till they start to brown. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush.
  3. In a pre-heated hot pan or wok, add oil and then onions. Fry on medium-high heat till the onions start browning.
  4. Add ginger and garlic. Saute and then add all the powdered ingredients, the crushed red pepper and salt per taste. Cook till the fragrance of the spices starts to mellow (about 5 mins). A splash of water will be helpful in slowing the cooking if needed.
  5. Add the coconut, sesame seed and peanut mixture and saute some more.
  6. Add the peppers, curry leaves and tamarind and sugar at this stage with a cup of water.
  7. Mix and cover to cook for 20 mins.
  8. Remove cover and cook as needed for the curry to dry.
  9. Ready to serve with rice, khichri and daal or better yet, biryani.

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