I always had fond memories of the gravy/curry that was served on the side with biryanis at restaurants in Mumbai. It was a nice tangy and spicy gravy that went very well with biryanis.
When I started to explore about food - I educated myself with the name - it as called "Mirchi ka salaan" - Mirchi means chilis and hence the heat.
This salaan was prepared just once a long time ago and then again I made it yesterday when we had a biryani party at a friends place. Yes, her husband cooks some mean biryani and kebabs. The biryani was super tasty with the great aroma of slow cooked spices with the most perfectly cooked chicken and ofcorse the salaan tasted good. We had the most amazing 'quatro leches' (four milk) cake made by another friend. A lot of laughter and jokes and serious talks and moscow mules were the highlight of the evening.
Its always uplifting to have such friends and I thank the Lord for getting these beautiful souls into our lives.
10 to 12 long hot peppers
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger piece
1/4 cup groundnut
1/4 cup grated coconut
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1 TBS poppy seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp jaggery
2 tsp coriander cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 to 2 cups water
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds/kalonji
10 curry leaves
2 dried red chillis
3 tablespoons oil
salt to taste
Wash the hot peppers and cut them into two pieces right in the middle. You can remove the seeds and the veins if you do not want the salaan to be extra hot. Leave it to dry out on a paper towel.
Heat a kadhai (I used an earthen pot to cook this salaan) and then add the groundnuts. Let them roast and let the color change to a reddish tinge - you will get a nice nutty aroma. Remove it onto a plate. Now add the sesame seeds and let them change their color - this will be quick as the kadhai is hot. Remove onto the same plate as the nuts. Now add the poppy seeds and roast for 2 minutes. Do the same thing with the fenugreek seeds. Remove to the same plate. Roast the grated coconut and get a nice reddish brown color on them. Add this to the plate too.
Now add 1 tablespoon oil to the kadhai. When it gets hot, add the garlic and immediately add the onions and the ginger. Saute till the onions get a nice golden brown color. Remove it onto the same plate as the nuts and the seeds. Let it cool and then grind to a fine paste. Add very little water just to east the grinding process.
In the same kadhai add the 2 tablespoons of oil. When it gets hot (really hot) add the chillis and get a nice chaar on their kinds. This would take about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove on a paper towel and let it sit. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on these chillis.
The kadhai will have oil in it. To this add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter and then add the nigella seeds, curry leaves and dried red chillis. When the chillis puff up - add the ground paste and mix well with a light hand. When the mixture has oil seeping from the sides, add the coriander cumin powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and a little salt. Add a cup of water and mix well. Cover and let the curry boil on medium heat. You will see the oil on top of the curry. Open the lid and add tamarind paste and jaggery. If the curry is too thick, you can add 1/4 cup of water at a time to get the desired consistency. Add the fried chillis and check for salt. Cover and let the curry simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with biryani. This goes well with plain steamed rice too.