I would just like to say, I simply adore traveling to India and all the sites, foods and smells that entails. Okay, maybe not all of the smells. I could do without the smells of that river over yonder that is also the town toilet, or that cow that just pooped in the middle of a busy roadway. Saying that watching my home state of California slowly morphing into shanty towns and resembling a third-world country is completely heartbreaking.
The streets of Mumbai or California, you decide…
The piles of festering garbage laying in the sunlight smelt just terrible. It was only an eighty-three-degree early September morning but all that offensive-smelling filth covered with flies and that might have been human excrement had me wanting to hold my nose. I trekked down the crumbling cement city streets and wondered is this neighborhood even safe? Where was I in the world? With my history of worldwide travel, one would think I was trekking past the shanty towns of a third-world country like Tijuana.
Was I out for a stroll to the nearest Empire restaurant, Butter Chicken on my mind, in Bangalore India? I looked both ways while crossing the street and definitely did not see any cows wandering about munching on leftover curries thrown in the gutter. But I did see a crazy naked homeless man screaming to himself across the boulevard. Nope, this was not India, this was not a third-world country. This was a walk I took from Duarte to Arcadia California the other day while my car was being serviced at CarMax.
Some snowflakes might think my use of the term third-world country is offensive but I just almost stepped in human shit in the middle of a city street in southern California. This seems like an instance you would have in a county with low economic development; not in the United States of America. How else would you explain a country where drug abuse and homelessness are so out of control that the great state of California (Remember, this was the golden state once?) is now resembling a giant toilet?
Trumpist; The worst Disney movie ever
Yet of course, if you have a problem with how California is turning upside down into a shanty town full of deplorables you are definitely a Trumpist. I’m assuming that is like being a fascist or a Marxist? It sounds like the liberal snowflakes tried to turn it into an insult. We conservatives are very insulted by being compared to a successful billionaire businessman. Although Trumper to me kind of sounds more like a Disney flying elephant movie than an insult for someone who is tired of paying way too much in taxes and watching criminals being early released back into our communities. See why I have to drown my sorrows in so much delicious Indian food? Because life in California is stressful when you are the minority and not a drug-addicted criminal.
I have to say my stroll down Tijuana Boulevard, I mean through Monrovia the other day, brought back some memories of my time traipsing through India. But none of the good memories. There was not a dosa cafe on the corner to get a piping hot breakfast puri. Where was the skinny old guy wearing the lungi in the roadside tea shack serving up a piping hot and sweet chai tea as Langur monkeys swung from the eucalyptus trees? There was just a scary tweaker possibly shooting up meth on the corner of Live Oak Avenue over there. This was most definitely California, not Chennai.
A curry so full of flavor it scares our pale friends
Some of our friends are terrified of Indian food. When they come to dinner they like to say they are coming for the Curry Cleanse. Some folks we know don’t exactly adore Indian food the way that we do in our household. And those pals would not care for this dish. It’s basically jalapeno soup. And it is a ridiculous spicy concoction of flavors such as… Jalapenos. Ghee. Coconut milk. How can it not be delicious? Plus this is keto. It’s vegetarian. And it’s gluten-free.
Mirchi Ka Salan is a coconut curry commonly served with biryani at weddings in sub-tropical Hyderabad. Here in California, I think this curry would be just fantastic over a baked sweet potato. I have no idea how to say sweet potato in Hyderabads native Telugu though.
Curried chili pepper goodness
Hyderabad is the spicy food capital of the world’s spicy food capital (India.) So of course this (Basically) chili pepper soup, hails from that region. Mirch Ka Salan basically translates to the curry of chili peppers from the native Hyderabad language Urdu. What else makes this spicy dish unique and full of bold flavors? The smooth sweetness of coconut milk, ghee of course and the tang you can only find in tamarind paste. These flavors are so typically found in south Indian cuisine.
On these chilly autumn nights here in southern California, a spicy soup is a filling dinner. Especially if you survived a walk home along the garbage-filled streets of the Los Angeles suburbs. The first time I tried this dish, it was so smooth and velvety, I couldn’t believe it was not made with lentils! Okay, with all those flavors about to burst into your mouth, don’t you want to make this chili pepper soup today? You and your curry bum will thank me later!
When I first began researching how to make this dish, I came across a version on Indianshealthiestrecipes.com. Because in India, a dish that’s mainly ghee and coconut milk is considered healthy. Jalapenos are a veggie, right? One thing I learned while on holiday in India, is that an American version of a healthy meal and an Indians version of a healthy meal are two very different things. In America, we consider healthy eating including lots of leafy green veggies (Indians do have delicious paleek paneer) in one’s diet. Here in California, we love our whole grains and we don’t eat carbs if we are over twenty-five years old. In Indian, a healthy meal basically means it was homemade with real ingredients like ghee, hand-ground spices and homemade paneer made from that trash cow over yonder. Definitely being a healthy home cook in shantytown California and overseas in colorful noisy Bangalore are two different worlds. So how can you prepare this curried chili pepper goodness in your kitchen wherever that may be around the world?
Mirchi Ka Salan Chili Peppers Braised In Coconut Soup
1 red onion, sliced into thin slices
4 teaspoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
3 cup water, veggie broth or chicken bone broth
1-2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons garlic ginger, minced
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup peanuts, ground very fine
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
4 whole jalapenos, deseeded, sliced in half
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 a whole jalapeno
7 curry leaves
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 cup fried onion pieces
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Heat the two tablespoons of the oil in a wok. Roast the whole jalapenos until blackened. Remove from heat. Add the peanuts and the poppy seeds. Roast until the peanuts are glossy, just a bit. Add the peanuts, sesame seeds poppy seeds and coconut milk to the mixi. Set the extra ghee aside in the wok. Blend the peanut coconut mixture up until very smooth.
Add the rest of the red onion slices for a good fifteen minutes to the ghee until a deep brown. Remove from the heat and then blend in a mixi with half of one of the jalapenos. Set the rest of the jalapenos aside for later. Return onions to the wok with one tablespoon of the oil. Add the garlic ginger, the cumin and coriander. Slowly add one cup water as it cooks down to form a paste. Cook until the spices are roasted well.
In the one tablespoon of ghee roast the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Add this mixture to the onion base. Add the turmeric and the curry leaves. Simmer for ten minutes. Mix in the tamarind paste and then the peanut coconut milk base. Add in the rest of the water and salt. Cook for forty-five minutes slowly on simmer. Add in the halved jalapenos and cook for another twenty minutes.
- You want to blend your peanut paste very fine.
- You can use any blend of peppers you want depending on how spicy you want this dish. If you want it more mild use poblanos. I like making this with fresh banana peppers from our garden. You may even want to deseed peppers like jalapenos for this dish.
- If you are a vegan cook, please feel free to substitute coconut oil for ghee. Coconut oil is used more freely in the south of India and it tastes really great in this sub-tropical dish.
- You can serve this dish so many different ways. It’s great over rice obviously. I prefer it over a roasted sweet potato. If you are on keto it’s delicious just by itself. Obviously, if you dip a paratha or roti in it, it’s just fantastic.
How amazing that you rode a camel!