For a long time, I used to wonder why this particular vegetable was referred to as ‘Shimla’ Mirch (mirch is the generic term for any kind of chilli, in Hindi) which by the way is the name of the capital city of the state of Himachal. Shimla happened to be the summer capital of the British colonials and it was they, who brought the seeds of this vegetable and grew it on the hills around Shimla, since the soil and weather conditions there were ideal for its growth.
There are many different names by which this vegetable is known and the most common ones are bell peppers, sweet peppers, capsicum. In north India they are popular as Shimla Mirch or Pahadi Mirch (pahadi is Hindi word for a hill).
Although they now come in beautiful bright yellow, orange and red but the most popular ones here, are still the green ones probably because they are cheaper in comparison to the others and also sharper in taste. It is commonly enjoyed as bharwan mirch or stuffed peppers with a stuffing of potatoes or meat and vegetarians turn it into a dry curry along with paneer or potatoes and sometimes add it to lentils.
For the simple stir fry that I am sharing today, I have used yellow, red and green capsicum. It is a delicious dry curry or sabzi as we Indians call it. It is very unlike any other sabzi that I have shared with you so far. This one is a ‘light’ dish i.e. it is light on the tummy since there is no ‘bhuna’ masala of onions and ginger garlic paste. The dish comes together really fast and is a nice change from the regular dry curries or sookhi sabzi that one usually finds in Indian households.
It can be enjoyed as a side dish with roti or paratha and it is vegan and gluten free like several other Indian meals are. For this recipe, I prefer the capsicums to have a little crunch to them and do not cook them till they are soft. You can cook them to whatever degree you like. Same for tomatoes. I cook them till they just soften and the skin just about begins to come off. Again, cook as you would like it. The following ratios works well for me. You can adjust the ratio of veggies to your liking.
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
4 medium / 300 gm approx Potatoes
3 medium sized Capsicums (approx. 120 gm each) of red, yellow, and green color each
2 medium / 150 gm Onion,
5 – 6 fat cloves Garlic, peeled
2 small / 100 – 120 gm firmTomatoes
Salt to taste
¾ tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
2 tsp Coriander Powder
½ – 1 tsp Garam Masala (amount will depend on the strength of the masala)
1½ tsp Chaat Masala (adjust to taste)
Boil the potatoes (add a teaspoon of salt while boiling) till they are just done. They should be slightly firm when insert a knife in them (since we shall be frying them first and then cooking them further)
Cool, peel and cut the potatoes in wedges. Set aside.
Wash and pat dry the capsicums. Slice and cut them to same size as the size of the potato wedges. Set aside.
Peel and wash the onions and thickly slice them. Set aside.
Peel, wash and slice the garlic. Set aside. (I usually halve it, horizontally, in two and then slice it)
Wash and pat dry the tomatoes and cut them in wedges. Set aside.
Add two tablespoons of oil in a wok or a cooking pot / pan (I prefer a wok / kadahi) and place it on high heat. (the oil should be hot before you add potatoes to it)
Gently tip half the potato wedges and fry them on high heat, till they turn golden brown on all sides. Remove them from oil, using a slotted spoon, and place them on an absorbent sheet.
Fry the remaining batch the same way and set aside.
Now add the capsicum and fry them on high heat, till their skin blisters (should take approx. one and half to two minutes) Remove on an absorbent sheet. Set aside.
In the same wok/ pot/ pan add the remaining one tablespoon of oil and heat it.
Add onion and garlic and fry them on high heat, stirring and tossing around till the garlic becomes goldenish in color and onions begin to turn translucent.
Add capsicum, keep stirring and fry further on high heat for half a minute.
Add tomatoes, keep stirring and cook on high heat for another half minute or till the potatoes begin to soften and their skin just begins to come loose. (Cook further if you like the veggies nicely done)
Add potatoes and reduce the heat. Add the spices except the chaat masala.
Increase the heat and stir the contents well. Cook again for half a minute. (check for done-ness of veggies and cook till the desired level)
Sprinkle the chaat masala and stir well.
Remove from heat and decant the contents in a serving bowl. Serve hot with chapati or paratha.
The dish tastes good even at room temperature and is therefore ideal to pack for tiffin.
Serves 4 – 5
Thank you for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!