Bell Peppers in Chickpea Flour

Besan Bell Peppers

Sometimes we find a recipe that calls us again and again, one we never tire of. One that, every time we make it, everybody smiles and hurries to the table. One that we can double, and still not have enough. I will admit to not having been a fan of bell peppers before I found this recipe. But something about the popped mustard seeds and the roasted chickpea flour and the cilantro (yes!) turns these veggies into something special, and I have come to really enjoy them now, even without this lovely treatment.

The original recipe, from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, called for green bell peppers, and yes, this recipe is lovely with them. But I love the colours of the red, yellow and orange versions, and prefer the taste, and when I can I use a combination of these sunnier versions. If you can find purple peppers, try that too. The more colourful, the prettier! I’ve also increased the amount of cilantro, because… cilantro! If you aren’t a fan of this fragrant herb, try it anyway. The flavour is not overpowering, but it does bring out the other tastes.

Peppers, chopped

All chopped and ready for the frying pan.

Bell Peppers in Chickpea Flour

  • ⅓ cup chickpea flour (besan)
  • 3 large bell peppers, your choice of colour(s)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground asafetida
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely minced
  • 1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup water

1. Sift the chickpea flour if necessary. Dry-roast it in a small heavy pan over medium heat, until it smells roasted and turns a few shades darker. Set aside.

2. Core and seed the peppers, and dice into 1/4- to 1/3-inch pieces.

3. In a medium non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium  heat. When it is hot, add the asafetida and, a second later, the cayenne pepper. Stir once, then add the mustard seeds. Listen carefully, because in a moment they will start to pop. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, toss in the diced peppers. Stir and sauté them over a medium-high for about 5 minutes or until they are just cooked. Now turn heat back down to medium and put in the salt, the black pepper, and the roasted chickpea flour. Stir a few times. Gradually add the water, stirring gently and scraping off all the chickpea flour that clings to the bottom of the pan. Add the cilantro, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom. Turn down the heat if the chickpea flour seems to be catching. Remove from the heat and let sit a minute before stirring once again.

Enjoy with rice, other Indian dishes, chutney, etc, or just grab a spoon and head for the closest room with a door where no one will disturb you as you devour the contents of the pan.

Chickpea flour

Roast the chickpea flour until it’s just a shade or two darker than it was raw, and begins to smell roasted.

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