While I raise my concerns about being overweight and the need to change our eating pattern at home, potato still remains the most frequently sought out vegetable in my household. This is done usually as for baby A, sabji = potato and potato = sabji. So, the potatoes in the veggie are usually picked out and heaped in baby A’s plate, which she chomps down with her roti – giving us a look which says – ‘ aren’t you guys proud of me? I am eating adult food – daal, sabji, roti!’. However, when I have got something else set up as her menu, I prefer to leave the potatoes alone and reach out for my favorite ingredient (maybe every maharashtrian’s favorite ingredient) – besan.
Back in my mom’s home, while addition of potatoes to vegetables is a crime, a liberal sprinkling of besan is the usual practice. It makes the vegetable delicious and healthy. Though I have seen besan being used very often in maharashtrian, rajasthani and gujrati cusine, it is not used in everyday cooking in north Indian food. No wonder hubby N had never eaten this version of shimla mirch ever before. It is great that he likes it as much as I do. Still waiting for baby A to get a taste of non-aaloo delights such as this one!
Shimla Mirch / Capsicum – 4 big (washed, deseeded, chopped to bite sized chunks)
Besan / Chickpea Flour – 3 tbsp (flat, not heaped)
Oil – 1.5 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – half tsp
Ajwain / Carom seeds – half tsp
Salt – as per taste
Haldi/ Turmeric Powder – half tsp
Laal Mirch / Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Dhania / Dry coriander powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala/ Kitchen King Masala – 1 tsp
1.Heat oil in a wok / non-stick pan.
2. When hot, add jeera, ajwain and let them splutter for a few seconds.
3. Add haldi, red chili powder and give it a stir to blend them with the oil.
4. Put in the shimla mirch chunks, mix gently to coat them with the oil mix.
5. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes / till the capsicum wilts.
6. Open and add salt. Cover and cook again for 5 minutes.
7. Open and sprinkle coriander powder and garam masala. Sprinkle the besan now. Mix gently so that the besan coats all the pieces. If you see things getting too dry, sprinkle some water.
8. Cook for 5 minutes in the open, so that the besan is cooked, moisture evaporates and the deal looks crisp and shiny.
9. Serve with rotis, or pack for lunch.
Here is the recipe of a side which I absolutely love, to the extent that I ignore all other daals and sides if I got a bowl full of these spicy peppers. At the same time, I also ignore all warnings by mom about not overeating these! These rescue you from boredom when you can’t eat a morsel more of the same veggie you have been consuming since ages (especially if you got someone like hubby N at home, who would want nothing but aaloo gobhi and arhar daal for every meal. )
These peppers are the ones prepared by my mom, I have never had them at any other place, so I am not sure whether this is a Maharashtian or Gujarati dish. These can be made as mild or as fiery you may like, it depends on the stuffing you make. These peppers as such are not hot like the small green chilis, you just have to make sure you pick up the correct ones – these are usually large, light green in color and kinda hollow.
large green peppers – 5 or 6 in number
besan/ gram flour – 1 cup
dhania / dry coriander powder powder – 1 tbsp
half tspn of spices – red chilli powder, garam masala, fennel / saunf seeds, carom / ajwain seeds
sugar – a pinch
salt – as per taste
juice of half a lemon
oil – 1 tsp
jeera / cumin – half tsp
1. Dry roast the besan in a heavy bottomed kadhai, till the rawness goes away and you get an aroma out of the besan. This step can be skipped, but is essential if you want a longer shelf life.
2. Once the besan has cooled down, add in all the spices, sugar, salt and mix using lemon juice, so that the mixture is neither too dry nor too wet. You want it to stay inside the peppers and not keep falling apart.
3. Clean (wash and wipe) the peppers.
4. Cut each into two halfs.
5. Using a knife, create a vertical slit on each of the portions. Remove all seeds from the insides.
6. Fill in the besan stuffing tightly into each of the portion.
7. In a heavy, flat bottomed kadhai, heat oil. Once hot, out in the jeera and let it splutter for 10 seconds.
8. Slide in the pepper portions slowly, lest they overlap each other.
9. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
10. Open the lid, carefully turn each pepper around so that they are cooked from all sides.
11. At this step, you can also sprinkle any leftover stuffing you might have. It coats all the peppers and tastes heavenly.
12. These do not take too much time to cook. To test, insert the tip of a knife into the skin of one of the peppers. If it gets in easily, its done.
13. These can be served as a side with rotis or daal-rice. When stored in the fridge, they stay good for upto a week.