Why measure when you have your taste buds, right?!
As long as I can remember, my grandma and mom never measured anything in their cooking. There would be huge family gatherings and lots of food. Just watching grandmom(Amma) cook with a pinch of this, a teaspoon of that, tasting every now and then was pure joy. Despite all the chaos I would be called to taste and see if it was OK. Let’s just say, it wasn’t just O.K, it was all so perfect. Maybe because of their inconsistency in how they cooked and got it right always, inspired me to see what cooking was all about.
The phone calls to mom asking for recipes always sounded like a doctor’s prescription if it could talk;). So now I cook like how they did, at least I try. One thing I did learn though, was how a curry should look and smell. Except for the time when I added a little bit more of the coriander powder and it did not taste how I wanted it to, although it looked and smelled perfect. I am careful with spices now.
Cooking is an art, baking is science. So true.
Here’s a curry you can cook with just your eyes and nose and a few ingredients.
Salan is a Spicy curry popular from the region, Hyderabad(southern part of India). It’s generally served with some form of biryani as an accompaniment. It uses simple ingredients and the curry is simply delicious. You can add more of coconut, less of peanuts or less of something and more of anything you like.
I personally love this curry with some herbed brown/wild rice, coconut rice or rotis/flatbread. The curry is a nutty, mildly sweetish from the peanuts. The spice are quite important to the curry because the coconut, peanuts and the sesame can make it quite subtle. So the chili powder is key. Charring some green chillies along with the sweet peppers gives this curry the smoky flavor and works wonders for the curry.
- 20 Mini peppers(not the spicy kind)
- 4-5 spicy chillies
- ⅓ cup raw peanuts
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
- ⅓ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 whole dried red chillies
- 2 red onions thinly sliced
- 2 large tomatoes
- 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tbsp red chili powder(use more or less according to your spice level)
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ⅓ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp thick tamarind juice(if you don't have tamarind, add thick sour full fat yogurt)
- 4 cups of water
- Wash and pat dry the peppers and make a slit in the middle. Put it on a baking tray, add a tsp of oil, salt and pepper and Bake it at a 420 oven for 10-115 minutes or until it's charred. Take it out and keep aside.
- In a small pan, add the peanuts and fry on low heat until it's toasted and add the sesame seeds, fry for a minutes and turn off the heat. Add the coconut along with the peanuts and sesame seeds and grind to a very fine paste with ¼ cup of water. Keep aside.
- Take a large pan, add 3 tbsp oil and let it get hot on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and red chillies. Add the sliced onion and fry on medium heat. Keep stirring and frying. When it is slightly wilting/caramalising add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till it browns lightly. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Keep stirring and frying until you see the oil separate. It will take about 5-7 minutes. Then add the ground paste, 4 cups of water. Check for salt and cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- After it mixture gets bit thicker, add the tamarind juice at this point. Let it come to a boil again, then add the peppers and simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
- If you are adding yogurt instead of tamarind pulp, add the yogurt after you turn off the heat. Mix well.
- Let the curry sit for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with rice or rotis.
The Rice is made with some herbs and some vegetable stock.