Green Peppers with besan flour

This simple vegetable side is something a re-discovered when we were in lockdown and I was nostalgically cooking old favourites from decades ago. The original recipe is from one of my seminal cookbooks – Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. I’ve owned this book since my early twenties and I’ve studied it, forgotten about it and re-discovered it many times in the decades since. The original recipe calls for green peppers but I use what ever peppers I have around, (red, yellow, green or a mixture of all three). When I first made this dish, it was really the only way I liked green peppers, a vegetable I considered, way back then, were not really fit for human consumption. I’ve since tempered my opinion of the much maligned green pepper or capsicum as we used to call them. Their robust crunchiness elevates the humble Greek salad and they are essential for the base of a good soffrito particularly for Cuban black beans or paella. This is one of those simply spiced side dishes that display the best of Indian home cooking, it’s not fancy enough to make it on to a restaurant menu but it’s perfect for a family feast at home.

Green Peppers cooked with besan flour
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey – Eastern Vegetarian Cooking
Serves 4-6

  • 45 grams besan flour
  • 3 large green peppers
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable
  • 1 large pinch of ground asafetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Sift the besan flour. Place flour in small cast-iron frying pan and roast on a medium flame until besan flour darkens a few shades, develops a roasted aroma and does not taste raw. Empty roasted besan into a bowl.
  2. Core and seed peppers, chop into small 1-cm dice.
  3. Heat oil in a (preferably non-stick) saute pan or wok. Add pinch of asafetida when it sizzles add cayenne pepper then mustard seeds.
  4. As soon as the mustard seeds pop throw in diced peppers. Saute over a medium high heat for about five minutes until peppers are just cooked.
  5. Turn heat down to medium add fresh coriander, roasted besan and season with salt and pepper. Stir through until mixed well, then gradually add 1/4 cup of water, stirring and scraping the besan flour off the bottom. Turn heat down if besan seems to to be catching. (This is easier if you’re using a non-stick pan)
  6. Cook for about two minutes stirring until besan mix coats the pepper. Turn off heat, let the peppers sit for a minute, stir and scrape down again and serve.

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