Caution: This dish is not for the faint-hearted! Extremely spicy but tasty curry.
Hot n Sweet Habanero pepper curry is a south Indian dish. This is a recipe for adventurous foodies who are craving spicy Indian curries. Our family eats very spicy food and one of the dishes we enjoy a lot is this curry. I am sharing our family recipe from India. Please exercise extreme caution while handling the peppers, preparing this dish as well as eating. A mouth and an eye-watering dish, that is a perfect complement with Rotis, rice, and plain lentil dal.
Habanero peppers are one of the hottest chilis in the world. Habanero chilis are rated 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale. The spice levels of chili peppers are measured using “Scoville scale” and described in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The Scoville heat unit is a measurement of the pungency (spiciness or “heat”) of chili peppers, based on the concentration of capsaicin (the main irritation causing compound in Chilis). To get an idea on a relative scale, the spice levels of serrano peppers varies from 6000-23000 SHU’s, Jalapenos is around 5000 SHU’s and Thai peppers vary between 50000-100000 SHUs.( as per Chilliworld website)
But why Habanero peppers? There are many types of peppers available but Habanero peppers have a unique flavor and floral aroma that make them a popular ingredient in hot sauces and other spicy foods. When roasted whole, the caramelization of the outer layers adds nutty, toasted, and earthy flavors. My recipe uses Habanero peppers as the main ingredient but the homemade masala paste is what makes the curry tasty and also reduces the spice levels.
The homemade masala paste for “Hot n Sweet Habanero pepper curry” uses roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, and dried coconut which together add 3 different types of oils and fragrance to the curry. They also help in neutralizing the spice levels of the Habanero peppers to a great extent. The Jaggery ( unrefined cane sugar or Gur) and Tamarind juice add further sweet, tangy, and sour tastes which enhance the taste of the curry.
To reduce the spice level : If you want to enjoy the spiciness of Habanero peppers but would like to avoid any risks, there are multiple ways in which the spice level can be moderated by adding :
- Roasted potatoes – Cut 2 potatoes into ½ inch cubes and roast them in oil until they are soft and caramelized
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 cup of boiled lentils
- 2 cups of Squash – cubed and boiled
Handling the Habanero peppers : Please use extreme caution while handling habanero peppers. I would recommend wearing gloves while working with these peppers and keep hands away from the mouth, eyes, nose, and other exposed areas of skin. If your Skin comes in contact with the chili peppers, follow the instructions as below :
- Do not rub the area
- Use milk, baby shampoo, or an antacid liquid to wash the affected areas.
- Use lidocaine gel or cream and gently spread on the affected area
- Liquids, such as milk and ice cream, which have a high-fat content, will help ease the sensation in the mouth, throat, and stomach.
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Hot n Sweet Habanero pepper curry
A spicy - sweet and sour curry made with Habanero peppers and a blend of peanuts, sesame seeds and dry coconut.
For the Masala paste
To prepare the Habanero curry
Roasting the Habanero peppers
- Clean the Habanero peppers with water and dry them
- Remove the stalks. DO NOT cut open the peppers
- Heat a Sauté Pan on medium flame.
- Add 2 Tsp of cooking oil
- Add the Habanero peppers.
- Reduce the flame to low level. Keep stirring every 1-2 minutes until the peppers start to turn dark and the outer skin starts to caramelize.
- It may take about 15-20 minutes to complete this step. We don't want the peppers to burst open.
Preparing the masala paste
Grind the roasted peanuts, grated dry coconut, and toasted sesame seeds in a blender into a coarse powder.
Making the Tamarind paste
Ideally, we can use the store-bought tamarind paste. In case you want to make your own, follow the steps below:
- Soak whole dry tamarind n ½ cup hot water for about 20 minutes.
- Then mash the tamarind. Filter the water and dispose off the solid remains of the tamarind.
Preparing the curry and serving
- Keep a thick bottom saucepan on medium flame
- Add oil. When the oil is hot (see air bubbles raising), add mustard seeds and let them sputter
- Add Cumin seeds and smashed garlic cloves and stir well for 30 seconds
- Add onions, and curry leaves
- Add ghee
- Keep stirring until the onions start to brown and turn semi-transparent
- Add the fried habanero peppers, half of the tamarind paste, and Jaggery ( Gur)
- Mix well. Add ½ cup water.
- Now add the masala paste and salt. Stir well.
- Check the taste and adjust the salt, sweet (jaggery) and tamarind ( add the remaining paste if needed)
- Boil the curry for about 10-15 minutes until all the ingredients have blended well.
- Remove from heat and serve
For serving :
- Garnish the curry with fresh chopped Cilantro
- This curry is best served with Rotis or rice
To reduce the spice level you can add the following to the curry:
- Roasted potatoes - Cut 2 potatoes into ½ inch cubes and roast them in oil until they are soft and caramelized
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 cup of boiled lentils
- 2 cups of Squash - cubed and boiled
Follow the precautions while handling the peppers as indicated in the “Description” section