Bell Peppers in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Today, we had rotis and bell pepper curry for dinner. I am not a fan of bell peppers. I mean I don’t dislike them, but generally they get a lukewarm response from me. One exception was when I had this bell pepper curry with peanut sauce at a resort in Coorg, Karnataka.  I relished it and so did everyone else in the family. I asked the friendly Chef who was right there and learned that it was a konkani curry (also called Capsicum Kairas sometimes.) Here’s my version with Bell peppers and onions cooked in a spicy peanut sauce made from freshly roasted masalas.

Recipe:

2 medium size bell peppers chopped into 1 inch squares (I used 1 green and 1 red)

2 small onions chopped into 1 inch squares

1 tomato chopped or 1 table spoon tomato paste

1/2 tea spoon grated ginger

1/4 tea spoon turmeric

Approx. 1 1/2 tea spoon salt

1 table spoon oil

For peanut sauce:

1 tea spoon oil

1/4 cup peanuts

6-8 dry red chilies

2 tea spoon coriander seeds

1 tea spoon cumin seeds

1/2 tea spoon urad dal

1/2 tea spoon chana dal

1/2 tea spoon sesame seeds

2 cloves

Note: If you want to skip tamarind, use 2 table spoon of tomato paste or 3 chopped tomatoes instead.

Method:

1. Fry the ingredients for the peanut sauce in 1 tea spoon oil for about 5-7 minutes. When cool, grind into a smooth paste by adding a small lemon size jaggery piece and seedless tamarind piece. You will need to add about 1/3 cup of water to grind. Keep aside.

2. In a pan, fry chopped bell peppers and onions in 1 table spoon of oil for about 10 minutes.

3. Add tomato pieces or tomato paste. stir well and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

4. Add the peanut sauce, salt and about 1 cup of water.

5. Stir well and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

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Capsicum curry

In my cookbook collection, I have a book called “100 easy-to-make Gujarati Dishes” by Vanamala Desai and Veena Shroff. This petite, unassuming book has some very unique and tasty recipes. The first one I tried was capsicum curry and just loved it. I tried many recipes after that and each one of them was truly wonderful. The book, which until now received only casual glances, has became a prized possession.

Capsicum curry has no gravy but contains a nice coating of chickpea flour and spices. Indians, especially south indians, oftentimes eat rice with chutney or some chutney-like dish before moving on to their daal or sambar. I did the same by mixing this curry with hot, steaming rice, and a tea spoon of oil. I quite relished it. This curry turned out to be quite spicy (I like it that way.) if you prefer medium spicy, use 1/2 tea spoon of red chili powder.

Capsicum curry and Paratha

Capsicum curry and Paratha

2 bell peppers/capsicum (red, green or 1 of each!)
3 tea spoon besan/chickpea flour/chana no loat
1 tea spoon red chili powder
1/4 tea spoon turmeric/haldi
3 table spoon oil
1 tea spoon sugar
1 tea spoon mustard seeds/rai
1/4 tea spoon asafoetida/hing
1 tea spoon salt
Half lemon (optional)
In a small bowl, mix together besan, red chili powder, salt, turmeric, sugar and 1 table spoon of oil. This is the masala powder.
Cut capsicum lengthwise into thin strips. I used one green and one capsicum. Heat 2 table spoon oil in a pan and do tadka/vaghar with rai/mustard seeds and hing. Add the capsicum and cook it uncovered on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Now sprinkle masala powder all over capsicum and cover the pan. Do not stir capsicum after adding the masala. Cook for 5 more minutes and take it off the stove. Mix well. If you like, you can add lemon juice from half a lemon (about 1 table spoon.)