Mirchi Ka Salan (Jalapeno Curry)

I had never heard of this dish till about a couple of decades ago. My first experience with it was on an Indian Airlines flight. Normally, airline food is quite boring. But I was fascinated with this dish – it tasted really wonderful. I tucked it away in a corner of my mind, saying to myself that this is an exotic dish that is possibly prepared by professional chefs. I then found this on the menu of a restaurant and, once again, thoroughly enjoyed it. It was then that I decided to experiment my own home preparation of this wonderful dish. And it turned out well. Now, I prepare this quite often and always enjoy it.

Ingredients
2 tbsp peanuts
1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (safed til, vellai ellu)
1 tbsp grated coconut
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
6 green jalapenos (you can use them whole or sliced)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1 sprig curry leaves
1 1/2 to 2 cups water (adjust according to the desired consistency)
A small lemon sized ball of tamarind, juice extracted
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1/2 tsp garam masala (these are normally gluten-free)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Method
Roast the peanuts till golden brown
Then add sesame seeds and continue to roast till a fragrant aroma emanates
Set aside to cool
In the same pan, saute the onions till translucent
Add ginger-garlic paste and continue to saute till the raw smell evaporates
Remove from flame and set aside to cool
Blend this with the roasted ingredients, coconut and 2-3 tbsp of water
The paste should be thick and slightly coarse
Set aside
Using the same pan as before, saute the jalapenos for a couple of minutes (do not burn them)
Set aside
Heat a wok and add mustard and cumin seeds
When they begin to splutter, add curry leaves and saute for a few seconds
Add the blended paste and water
Stir well to ensure that there are no lumps
Add chilli powder, tamarind juice, garam masala and turmeric powder
Stir and simmer for 5-8 minutes
Add the jalapenos and cook on low heat till they wilt
The gravy will also thicken in this process
Remove from flame and serve hot with biryani or steamed red/brown rice
Enjoy!

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