Aloo Shimla Mirch ki Sabzi

(Potatoes and green bell peppers (shimla mirch/capsicum) fried in a melange of spices and condiments that is so utterly delicious-it will be your go-to sabzi!)

You can truly sample the wonderful taste of the bell peppers and potatoes in this sabzi. I have made a few notes at the end of the recipe about the cooking of potatoes and the use of spices. You can use those pointers and make this recipe your own. IMG_9183

I often talk about food nostalgia-about it being a very important reason why I love food. I love that food can be cooked, shared and enjoyed with people you love-your tribe! This dish reminds me of my hostel days in Mangalore, India. I have such wonderful, vivid and ‘highly implicating’ stories of cooking in my hostel room with my crazy bunch of friends.

And I use the word ‘implicating’ because you see, cooking was strictly prohibited in the hostel rooms. You could have an electric kettle, an iron and thats it. No electric cooker or hot plate was allowed. I, on the other hand, had an electric hot plate, a non-stick kadhai with lid, a bottle of oil, homemade ghee and an array of powdered spices from my moms kitchen in small ‘potlis’- small plastic packets. My friends and I would get few vegetables, paneer and sometimes chicken and huddle up and cook in my room.

Things don’t get easier (or more implicating) as my room was right above my wardens room! Yup, the smell of our cooking always got us in trouble. Well, not really, as we were always warned but never punished. Also, it helps that she was a sweetheart. Anyway, this is one of the dishes we would make as a group.

We sometimes made it in ghee and sometimes plain old veggie oil but it was always finger-licking good. We used to get rotis from the hostel canteen to eat with this Sabzi. And ideally, that’s how you enjoy a sabzi like this one the best.

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Also, I just want to clarify one thing-although this recipe stems from my hostel experiences and the cooking we did then, it’s not the same. Back then, we would cut up the veggies, throw it in some oil and spices, close the lid and hoped it would be fine. I make it differently now-the potatoes are laced with layers of flavour and it’s a well balanced sabzi with the perfect amount of everything! It is my hope that you give this winner dish a try and let me know if you like it!

Now for the recipe:

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes- 4 medium sized cooked potatoes, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes, (for cooking of the potatoes, see below)
  • Green bell peppers- 1 1/2 big bell peppers, cut in 1 inch-ish cubes
  • oil-4 tbsp
  • asafoetida- a big pinch
  • whole cumin seeds- 2 tsp
  • red chilli flakes-1-2tsp (as per spice tolerance-I add 2 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder-1/2 tsp
  • salt- as per taste (I use 1 1/2 tsp, sprinkled at different stags of cooking)

Procedure:

1.) Cooking of the potatoes- Cut the potatoes in half. Place them in a small and deep saucepan with enough water (the potato halves should be fully submerged in water). Add a pinch of salt to the water and place a lid on the sauce pan. Cook the potatoes on medium heat till they are soft enough that a knife goes in through them but they still hold their shape. You don’t want them to be soft and gloopy.  Also, make sure that there is enough water while boiling. Mine took between 12-15 minutes. Remove the potatoes from hot water and place on a dry plate. Peel their skin and cut them into 1 1/2 inch sizes. Set aside.

 

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2.) While the potatoes are being boiled, prep the capsicum/shimla mirch (green bell pepper). Wash the bell peppers and cut them in 1 inch cubes. Discard all the seeds. Set aside.

3.) Place a skillet on medium-high heat, add the oil to it and when it’s hot add the asafoetida and the cumin seeds. Fry for 20-30 seconds. You just want the aroma, don’t let it burn.

4.) Add the red chilli flakes and quickly fry for another 20-30 seconds, then add the turmeric powder to it.

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5.) Now add the potatoes and fry for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the potatoes don’t stick to the pan. Add a pinch of salt now. Also, keep stirring every now and then.

6.) Once the potatoes are crispy and fried on the outside, add the bell peppers and stir again.

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7.) Stir the veggies again and add another pinch of salt. Sprinkle Garam Masala once the bell peppers are fried well. Done! Remove from heat and serve hot with rotis or puris!

 

Note:

  • Cooking of the potatoes-You can cook the potatoes in a pressure cooker as well. I reckon 2-3 whistles is enough. I would be cautious and do 2 whistles and then cook it more depending on the doneness of the potatoes. I prefer cooking it with a lid in a sauce pan so I can remove them from heat at the right point without overcooking it.
  • You can avoid pre-cooking of the potatoes and directly add them to the oil, fry them until they are done and then add the bell peppers. I have used that method before and I its a bit gloppy and soft, definitely not a fry. But you can try that as well and decide for yourself.
  •  Now, about the masalas-as you can see, there are not that many. I like to taste the vegetable in a sabzi. Whats the point of adding every spice powder in your cupboard and masking the taste of the actual vegetable?! But, if you like, add a nice generous pinch of chaat masala. My husband believes it improves the taste. I add it sometimes.

I hope you try this and if you do, let me know!

With lots of love,

Susan A

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