Telangana stuffed green chilies in spicy gravy (Telangana mirchi ka salan)

The city of Hyderabad is a melting pot of numerous cuisines, Nawabi, Marathwadi, and the Rayalseema styles of cooking. These diverse cuisines allow the citizens of Hyderabad to enjoy a very diverse palate of flavors and an almost infinite variety of dishes.

This dish is from the Hindu Telengana side of the state. Typical of the cuisine, it is loaded with spices and chilies. It differs from its Nizami cousin in that it is so much more pungent and spicy, and the cooking technique is different. These chilies are first stuffed with the spice masala and then fried or oven roasted (to be healthy) to seal in the flavors. The remaining spice masala is slowly cooked down to concentrate the flavors into a curry that the stuffed peppers float in. In the Nizami version, coming soon to this blog, the spice masala is blander and the curry is cooked in layers of oil with the peppers. The flavors are subtler but still wonderful. I have taken the liberty of adapting this recipe to make the presentation more contemporary. I cook down the curry to a thick paste, this concentrates the flavors and I then use this as a base on which to beautifully display the stuffed peppers. The effect and flavors are wonderful and the traditional flavors are not only maintained, but concentrated.

This is a wonderful cookbook that is packed with traditional dishes. The book was written by Archana Pidathala as an ode to her grandmother's cooking. This book is so much more than a collection of recipes, it brings to my table a history of the cuisine and people. Wonderfully written and with beautiful photographs, this cookbook fills a gap in my bookshelf in a cuisine that I know very little about.

For more delicious, and spicy, dishes from this cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

6-7 fat green chilies for stuffing

2 tablespoons oil


2 tablespoons tamarind paste

1 tablespoon jaggery

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

10-12 curry leaves

3 tablespoons yogurt, whipped smooth

Cilantro, minced, to garnish



For the stuffing:

1 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons desiccated coconut

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

2 tablespoon oil

1 large onion, finely sliced

1-3 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt, to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon ginger paste


Slit the green chilies from the bottom to the stem leaving them whole. Carefully remove the seeds and veins. Set aside.


Dry roast the sesame seeds, peanuts, coconut, coriander, cumin, and fenugreek on low heat individually till each are lightly toasted and aromatic. Cool and grind to a fine powder in a spice mill. Set aside. I usually get the dry spices ground to a fine powder and then add the peanuts. The peanuts grind into a butter and form a thick paste.


Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions cooking them on a medium-low heat. Fry till golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, turmeric and salt and mix in well. Take off the heat and cool.


In a small wet blender mix the ground spices and the onion mixture and grind to a smooth paste with a few tablespoons of water. You are looking to keep the paste as thick as possible.


Stuff the chilies with the paste. You will not use all the paste, but that is OK. Layer the chilies on a lined baking sheet and broil in the oven till the peppers are blistered and charred in spots. Turn them to get an even char on all sides. Alternatively, you can fry them, but I always choose the healthier option without oil whenever it does not compromise the flavor.


Meanwhile, mix the remaining paste with the tamarind, jaggery, water, and salt. Heat the oil in a wide pan and add the paste to it and fry. Cook gently for 5 minutes till the curry is cooked and aromatic. Add the yogurt and cook till the yogurt has cooked into the curry, about 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and chili. Finish by add the garam masala and stirring in. Take off the heat. The curry can be prepared to this stage and left for assembly till later.


To assemble, heat the curry till hot. Gently add the stuffed peppers and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes till the insides of the peppers are warmed through. Gently spoon the peppers onto a wide shallow dish. Drizzle the curry around the peppers. garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.


For a more contemporary serving plate, heat the curry till it forms a very thick paste. Thickening the curry concentrates the flavors, the spiciness and the tartness. Layer this on the bottom of the dish and gently place the warmed chilies on the paste. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

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