The combination of peanuts and green capsicum (a.k.a. jalapeños) is quite popular in Indian cuisine. Mirchi Salan, where mirchi means chilli pepper and salan roughly translates to gravy, is a popular dish in Hyderabadi homes. If you can't take the heat of the jalapeños, you could replace them with bell peppers.
There are many big flavors in this dish. And the peanuts lend a nice balance to the heat and roasted spices.
When I first tasted Mirchi Salan, it was as a side to a biryani that my friend had made. Like most Indians, she obsessed about the fact that one of her guests might be one of the 'curry drenchers' who needs to have gravy even with a biryani that's moist enough with all the masalas. I ended up eating embarrassing amounts of it. And taking the recipe home to make it the next day as well.
So, if a bunch of fresh green jalapeños are staring at you at a market, grab them quick and try out this recipe. You'll be giving the jalapeños and yourself a huge treat.
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 6 jalapeño peppers split lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 tablespoon toasted and ground cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon toasted and ground black mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted and ground fenugreek seed
- 2 tablespoons toasted and ground peanuts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted and ground sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 6 medium cloves minced garlic (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut flesh
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup water
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed lidded saucepan until shimmering. Slide in the peppers and fry until skin is lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Do not wipe out saucepan.
Combine cumin, mustard, fenugreek, peanuts, sesame seeds, chili powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, tamarind, and coconut flesh in a small bowl.
Return pan to medium heat and add remaining oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the curry leaves and stir as they splutter, immediately add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spice paste and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant and oil separates from the spice paste, about 12 minutes.
Add water, salt and sugar to the mix. Stir and close the lid. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the peppers and allow to cook without the lid for another 5 minutes until the flavor of the gravy infuses into the peppers. Serve hot with any Indian meal.