"...MIRCHI KAA SAALAN, a curry of mixed peppers, both hot and sweet. I Love this dish so much, the pleasure of heat compelling me to take one more bite…. The first time Suvir made this, I knew I would dream of it, crave its heat and depth of flavor (dark peanut flour, coconut). I knew I would want to eat this every week, and now I can because Suvir taught me to make it. The recipe will be in his forthcoming cookbook, so there will be lots of happy mouths." - Kim Sunee
There is something wonderful about peanuts, that just is not there in many ingredients. Peanuts are what I love to call "the ecumenical" nut. They are affordable, they are a powerhouse of nutrition, they are friendly to most all flavors, and they are AMERICAN! Really, they are not nuts, they are groundnuts or legumes. But that is more knowledge than people are willing to consider these days. How sad! And sadly, because we do not understand this small but salient fact, so many of us are robbing ourselves of the magic of peanuts. Not everyone with an allergy to tree nuts has to be allergic to peanuts or vice versa. But allergies are an issue - especially today, and in this country, so if you are allergic, do what is best for you. Smartly, the National Peanut Board, takes allergies very seriously, and considers an allergic reaction by even one, to be one too many. Luckily for me, allergies are part of my life and world, but nothing I need to worry about as far as my own diet goes. I have been somehow spared, at least thus far. And so, this modest, potent and very tasty groundnut (Peanut), has been a good friend I have had the ability to play with, rely on, and share with those I bring into my world, at my table, and feed my foods. In this recipe, the heat of the peppers and the spices, is beautifully tempered by the creamy, sweet, nutty, rich and earthy notes of the peanut. In fact, life is made easy by the use of Peanut Flour. Information about where you can buy it, is down below. The absence of peanuts would give you a very pungent and hot sauce. Almost acrid and a challenge. But the addition of peanuts, makes it a seduction, an adventure, a pilgrimage, a must-taste.
Mirchi Kaa Saalan is all about a celebration of peppers. It is the pleasure you get in tasting the marriage of an ingredient that is ferociously spicy at times, bitter at others, sweet too, and hot when bought with that in mind. In this dish, we buy all kinds of peppers. And want a dish that celebrates a symphony of their myriad flavors. With peanuts, seeds, stalks, spices and patience, conducting the melange you create in your pan, into a symphony of tastes and flavors that is unlike any you have experienced.
And so, when Ted Allen chose this dish for "The Best Thing I Ever Ate", I was certainly excited, but not surprised. Ted has impeccable taste. He is certainly a HUGE ambassador of the world of flavors, that live across the globe. He has been a champion of Indian cooking. And he has been more supportive than he needs to be. I owe Ted more than he could ever imagine. I also do not really know him. We have met professionally, like whilst taping the segment on this dish. But sadly, I have never really gotten to know the man inside the wonderful man on TV, and the man I meet at events. Someday, I hope, this dish, and other foods of India, that he so loves and shares with his followers, brings him closer to my world, so I can cook a meal for him, just for him and his close friends or family, to show my gratitude to him for all he has done for supporting those of us cooking food, that often gets termed "ethnic" and with that is given connotations that differentiates it from the rest. Thanks Ted for being you. Thanks also for enjoying this humble dish from Hyderabad, India. I am sure I am only one of many millions that shall thank you for posterity for bringing this dish to those that follow you and watch the Food Network.
Below is the information for Byrd Mill Peanut Flour that I use for this recipe, and also for recipes I make for those with celiac disease. In fact since discovering Peanut Flour, we now make our famous fried chicken often with peanut flour, rice flour and cornmeal. Again, a way of making the chicken gluten free, and making it accessible for those with intolerance to wheat. You can get it light or dark. When frying something with it, use the lighter flour. For nuttier taste in sauces, add the dark flour. Use it wherever you would use flour, watch for the liquid, it takes a little getting used to, but even mac-and-cheese, can become a tad healthier with the addition of this flour - and that much tastier!