Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Zhanzhanit Thencha Potatoes for Maharashtra Day !


“Zhanzhanit”- means electrifyingly spicy in Marathi, its an exclusive word used for chilli preparations, mostly the ones that are so hot that it makes one cry while eating. Marathi is the regional language of my home state of Maharashtra and the Maharashtrian communities that live here. This is the state in which Mumbai, the city where I was born, is located and I like to think there is a lot of Maharashtrian in me :) I have also grown up eating Maharashtrian food.  

Chillies which are intrinsic for adding heat to Indian food, only came to us in India in the 17th century with the advent of the Portugese. But for an ingredient that entered our cuisine so late, they managed to make themselves irreplaceable very quickly. Today they are extensively used and every region in India grows a different variety of chillies. Green chillies are used in daily cooking as part of the tempering, to spice up chutneys and salads but usually for their heat alone. 

The Maharashtrian Mirchi Thencha is one of the few Chilli recipes that roasts chillies to make a rustic condiment named after the method of preparation it calls for (Thencha means pounded). The smoky flavour from the roasting adds to the heat of the chillies and the aroma of the garlic. 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes; Serves: 4


For Thencha
1/2 c hot spicy Green chillies
1 c Garlic, peeled
Salt to taste
Peanuts, toasted and crushed (optional)

For Thencha Potatoes
250g Baby potatoes par-boiled in salted water with jackets on
1 cup stock
2 tbsp of the Thencha
Salt to taste (if required

For Thencha : Roast chillies and garlic on a hot pan till slightly blackened. 
Place  in a mortar and pestle or blender and process to a coarse paste with salt and peanuts (if using). 
When done transfer to a jar. Thecha can be stored for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

To make Thencha Potatoes : Mix Thencha with stock and add the potatoes. Toss well until coated. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Cook till potato jackets are crisp (add 2 tsp of oil towards the end if you like).

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