Bell Pepper is one of those vegetables that I buy very rarely. On exceptional occasions, it gets added in my grocery list and often plays a side role in creating a complete dish. Bharwa Shimla Mirch (Potato Stuffed Bell Pepper) is the only dish I know where bell pepper is the hero. It takes on a full role. Bharwa Shimla Mirch can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish with the main course.
What is Bharwa Shimla Mirch?
Bharwa means stuffed and Shimla Mirch are bell peppers! Bharwa Shimla Mirch has various versions. You can fill it with grains, beans, meat, sauces but the most common filling used in Indian cuisine is spiced potato mash. Sometimes, grated paneer is also added to pack it with protein. This stuffed bell pepper is a great dish to use your creativity and make it as per your taste buds. Neither Arvind nor I are a big fan of this vegetable but once in a while, the craving hits. I like to make it the simplest way possible and pair it with daal and rice.
Key Notes while making Bharwa Shimla Mirch
One key note while making this bharwa Shimla Mirch is seasoning! Don’t forget to season the pepper before adding the filling. If you miss this part, the overall flavor will not come out and the skin will taste very bland. Make sure the filling is not too wet or else, the peppers won’t stay crunchy as it cooks.
Back in India, the bell peppers are tiny and perfect for individual portions. It even looks very neat with the top sliced, filled, cooked. You can then place the top back for that pretty presentation. It can make a great centerpiece at the dinning table. The ones that we get here are quite large. So, I prefer to slice it half unless of course, you absolutely love the veggie and can eat an entire large pepper.
Method of Cooking
I prefer to bake it in the oven as it cooks evenly, but you could also slow cook it in a pan that has a tight lid. You could also sear it on the pan to get a nice golden crust on the filling and then, put it in the oven to finish the final cooking.
Either way, it’s tastes great and makes a fine meal just on its own, even without something else to pair with it. However, I grew up eating it with daal and rice and still prefer the same.
Here are few Indian daal recipe you can pair this dish with:
- 3 bell peppers
- 2 medium size potatoes, boiled and mashed
- ¼ cup finely diced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon fennel powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon dry mango powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
- To prepare the filling, place a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and pour the oil. Once the oil heats up, sprinkle the cumin seeds and wait a few seconds for it to sizzle.
- Scatter the onion, followed by salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder and fennel powder. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. Then, drop the mashed potato and mix it all around. Finally, add the dry mango powder and taste for salt. Add any, if needed.
- Slice the peppers in half and remove the stem and seeds. Sprinkle little salt on the inside of the pepper and massage it all around.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- Place the filling in the peppers and place the peppers on a cookie sheet. Put the sheet on the middle rack of the oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until the peppers are cooked and softened.
- Sprinkle some fresh cilantro leaves and squeeze fresh lemon juice. Serve warm.
The cooking time will depend on the size of the bell peppers and how crunchy or soft you prefer the pepper skin.