Do you know what a Konkani person working in a different state or living abroad when he/she thinks of home? Nine times out of ten, it is for hot paej (rice gruel) and crisp, deep-fried, spicy mirsange happolu (red chili papad). In traditional Konkani households, often, supper consists of hot rice, over which is poured warm milk, and is accompanied by an upkari (a vegetable stir-fry) and the precious mirsange happolu. These beautiful thin red discs are made of black gram flour (udidha peet in Konkani) and lots of hot chili powder. Though they are generally deep-fried in cooking oil, the earnest chili lover often prefers to have them roasted over live coals in order to retain the heat of the chili, and then smeared with a few drops of coconut oil to mellow the bite of the chili and to bring out its gourmet taste.
My dear late father was a gourmet king, and naturally, I grew up as a spoilt gourmet myself. Whenever my mother and my father’s sister used to make fresh mirsange happolu, they would save some dough for me to shape into a ponthi (an earthen lamp) in which I would pour fresh coconut oil and enjoy it in little bites in between mouthfuls of hot rice.
Sometimes, my father and I would each take a fresh dried mirsange happolu (not fried), smear both sides with coconut oil, and bury them in piles of hot rice on our plates for a few minutes. The steam from the rice would give an amazing softness to the chili papad, which would then be taken out and enjoyed with great delight.
The secret of making a great mirsange happolu lies in caring about two important things. The first is the flour itself. The black gram flour should be pure and smooth as talcum powder. Coarse powder just won’t do! Secondly, the dough needs to be worked so well that it is quite smooth, and binds perfectly. Traditionally, the dough was kneaded by hand and then transferred to a round granite hand grinder (a huge cylinder of granite with a smooth deep pit carved out in the middle). There, it was pounded repeatedly with a heavy iron pestle for 30 minutes to bring out the perfect consistency. As we could not bring the heavy traditional hand grinder (often weighing 200 kilos or more) to our new home, I just used a stone pestle to pound the dough in a large, extra-thick stainless steel bowl for a bit longer, with excellent results.
In olden times, we used to get either dried chilies or chili powder of nearly uniform heat and flavor, but nowadays, a great many options are available in the market. For the sake of this recipe, I have used the chili powders readily available in the market even though I generally make chili papads with our own homegrown organic chilies which are collected when ripe, sun-dried and powdered. This powder is a cut above any other, but as all are not in a position to do so, I would ask you to procure good quality dried chilies from the market, dry them in the sun after discarding the stems, and then powder them, rather than buy packaged chili powder. This way, you can choose the types of chilies you like best to make your chili papad. Enjoy!
|Prep Time||3 hours|
|Cook Time||5 minutes|
|Passive Time||1 hour|
- 250 gm fine black gram flour
- 80 gm Kashmiri chili powder (for bright color and less heat)
- 20 gm hot red chili powder
- 2 gm asafoetida powder
- 20 gm powdered salt
- 30 ml coconut oil
- 125 ml water
- 100 gm fine black gram flour
- 500 ml cooking oil
For the dough:
To dip the dough:
- Sieve the black gram flour, both the chili powders, the asafoetida powder and the powdered salt into a wide, thick stainless steel bowl.
- Pour in the coconut oil and the water.
- Knead thoroughly. You'll find that the dough is much harder than when we use wheat flour for making other dishes.
- Use a heavy pestle to pound the dough, turning it over frequently, for 30 minutes. This is required to soften it and to make it bind well.
- Divide the dough roughly into four portions. Press and roll each portion into a cylinder of around 1-inch (2.5 cm) diameter.
- Placing it on your cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut across to get cylindrical pieces of around 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) thickness.
- Dip each tablet in the fine black gram flour and use your rolling pin to roll it to smooth round chili papads of around 1/20-inch (1 mm) thickness.
- You may need to dip the papad once or twice in the dipping flour to get rid of stickiness if any as it spreads out to its full size when you roll it, but take care not to have any residual flour on it once it is finished.
- The chili papads can be dried in the hot sun for 15 minutes on one side and for 15 on the other side if you are planning to deep-fry them immediately. If however, you wish to store them for later, please dry them for 30 minutes on each side. You can use a grass mat, or a clean cotton cloth, or large stainless steel platters, trays, or plates to spread out the papads for drying.
- After bringing in the hot papads, wait a few minutes for them to cool before storing them in food grade, air-tight containers. Well-dried mirsange happolu can be stored for more than a year.
- Set a pan or wok on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil.
- As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), turn down the heat to medium, and slip in a papad. As it rises, immerse it with a perforated ladle for a second. Turn it over, keeping it for just one more second in the hot oil. Lift out and drain. Finish frying the rest of the required chili papads likewise.
- Your delicious mirsange happolu is now ready to serve. Enjoy with all sorts of rice dishes. Try it with soup too! Wine lovers will love to take little bites of mirsange happolu between sips of wine, each enhancing the taste of the other!
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Lovely! we love it raw meaning before drying in the sun the wet one .Tried making it but nowhere close to the ones we get in tellicherry 🙁
ഗിരിജയുടെ റിസിപികൾ വളരെ മനോഹരം ആണ്. വളരെ ലളിതമായി വിവരിക്കുന്നു. അനുമോദനങ്ങൾ
Karnire S. Pai
My mouth waters when I see the mirsange happolu picture and am craving for some. Where can I buy some in the USA or from India by air. Please help. Thanks
I am so very sorry. I have no idea whatsoever as to where it’s available in America. If you have any relatives or friends in India, they should be able to purchase them from Konkani shops in Mangalore.