One thing I love, in life and in food, is a new discovery.
A few weeks ago, a person named Sandeep wrote to tell me about an ingredient that her mom used in the recipes she made at home in India: an ingredient called hari mirch.
I’d never heard of hari mirch and was pleasantly surprised when Sandeep sent me a container of it.
It arrived with a lovely note that said:
My sister and I were trying to recreate some of the dishes our mom made at home. Doing this in our NYC kitchen just wasn’t the same. The kitchen was a lot smaller, the stove was from the “I Love Lucy” era and the ingredients cost and arm and a leg. But something was really missing…the dishes never tasted the same. Then my mom revealed the secret ingredient that was giving every delicious dish a touch of Indian flavor and the perfect amount of spice. We were using cayenne pepper, jalapeno pepper, and salt + pepper—to no avail. But our mom used a simple natural homemade “hari mirch,” which translates to “green pepper.”
Contrary to popular believe, Indian cooking doesn’t require 5-7 unrecognizable and unpronounceable spices that make the apartment smell like curry for days. Our mom used only two very powerful ingredients: turmeric and homemade hari mirch.
While Sandeep’s mom is able to step outside to her garden and pick a variety of hot peppers she uses to make hari mirch, this isn’t the ideal scenario for most of us. Fortunately, Sandeep is in the process of packaging hari mirch so we can all taste it. I’m so glad she is, because I just ran out of my batch and I hope to make it a regular addition to my kitchen. And if you want to taste it, some specialty food stores sell it but be sure to call ahead.
I’ve added it to roasted vegetables, pan-fried potatoes, chicken skewers, sautéed shrimp and a cod stew (see below). I love how it adds a spicy zip to a dish, without it becoming too spicy. Sandeep also explained how it adds an equal distribution of heat and spice so you’re not taking one bite that’s too spicy and one that’s not.
Thank you, Sandeep, for introducing me to an ingredient that means so much to you. Sharing it means a lot to me.
At my core I’m a girl from New England, where cod is served in many incarnations, from fried with French fries to milky chowders. But I have wanderlust in my heart, which has led me to seek out ingredients and flavors from all over the world. Take this cod stew: I added classic Thai flavors along with hari mirch, an Indian pepper mixture that adds some heat, but not too much, and a unique pepper flavor that’s not overpowering.
To make lime zest and to grate the ginger, I use my own 2-in-1 Zester + Grater. It turns the ginger into a lovely paste.
|Heat oil in a soup pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic for about 1 minute. Add the ginger, then the coconut milk and stock. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes, then add the tomatoes, lime juice, zest and hari mirch. Add potatoes, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cod and simmer for 8-10 more minutes, or until potatoes are done. |