Mirchi ka Salan is a traditional staple in all Hyderabadi feasts and occasion. It is also relished with steamed rice and chapatti. The seemingly humble dish is a an explosion of flavours - spicy, sweet, salty, and a tad bitter all at the same time. For the rich curry, the mirchi or the chilli is cooked in spices, and the peanut not only adds to the grainy texture of the curry but also tempers the taste of the hot flavours.
Legend has it that the salan was a brainchild of one of Akbar's khansama. Even the 'Ain-i-Akbari' mentions the delicacy as his favourite. It is said that the king was thrilled with Mirchi ka Salan being one of the highlights of the royal menu, at the time of his coronation. However, most food historians believe that the salan was indeed a product of Hyderabad. The Asaf Jahi dynasty relished the delicacy in the royal courts as the side accompaniment. Historians also suggest that Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty who founded the city of Hyderabad in 1591, had a penchant for bold and piping hot flavours in his food and this may have something to do with the birth of the spiced - curry.
Some also say that the spicy dish with fried onion, spices, cumin seeds, tamarind and almonds was never meant to be a side as it is seen today, but a prominent member of the mains. It was during the time of Asaf Jahi that the salan became the renowned accompaniment to biryani or rice.
You can make the Nizam speciality at home with this recipe by Chef Kishore D Reddy- Hyderabadi Mirchi Ka Salan. This is not for the faint-hearted.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.