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W hile Indian curries and snacks are known the world over for their range of colours and consistencies, depth of flavours and mix of spices, very little prominence is given to the assortment of condiments, pickles and chutneys that, in the truest sense, complete an Indian plate of food. These accompanying flavourful delights exist through the length and breadth of the country: Be it Punjabi mix-veg achaar, Maharashtrian thecha, or Axone chutney from Nagaland or podi from South India.
Mirchi ka Kutta or spiced crushed green chillies is a traditional Rajasthani accompaniment dish eaten to spice up the main dishes. It is generally served alongside the famed Dal Baati Chokha Churma, puris, parathas or even khichdi, dal chawal etc. The dish is prepared using fresh green chillies. The selection of green chillies can range from very hot to milder varieties depending on the taste of the user. Other ingredients used are fenugreek seeds (methi), fennel seeds (saunf), nigella seeds (kalonji), mustard seeds (sarson), cumin seeds (jeera), coriander powder (dhaniya), turmeric powder (haldi), dry mango powder (amchoor), asafoetida (hing) and salt to taste.
To prepare this dish one needs to pound green chillies and garlic together. Traditionally, a mortar and pestle is used as it helps in blending the two ingredients perfectly, however, an electric blender or food processor can also be used. Meanwhile, the fenugreek seeds need to be soaked in water for 3-4 hours until they soak water and swell up. This is something one can prep in advance. Now, to start preparing Mirchi ka Kutta, heat mustard oil in a wok. This use of mustard oil is essential as it adds pungency to the dish. Once the oil is hot, add the whole spices like fennel, nigella, mustard and cumin seeds along with a pinch of asafoetida. Then drain the soaked fenugreek seeds and add them to the wok. Also, to this add the pounded garlic and chillies along with all the dry spices and stir till soft. In the end, add salt as per taste along with amchoor. The preparation hardly takes around 10 minutes to be readied.
It is rather an interesting interplay of flavours -- right from the heat from green chillies, the sharp punch of garlic, to the bitter aftertaste from methi and a refreshing sweetness from fennel. This is further accentuated by the tanginess lent by the amchoor and the pungency of the mustard oil. Note: In many Rajasthani homes, instead of amchoor, the raw pulp of tangy lemons is also used. In short, it is an explosion of flavours inside the mouth that not only increases the appetite but also enhances the overall eating experience.
Mirchi ka Kutta can be stored in the refrigerator for two-to-three days for repeat servings. This can also be preserved for a much longer period if pickled with mustard oil and preserved in jars.
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