Sunday, February 04, 2007

B is for Bharli Mirchi

The myriad cuisines of India all love their vegetables! Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried into hundreds of vegetable dishes. In this series, the A to Z of Indian Vegetables, we take an alphabetical journey through the various avatars of vegetables relished in Indian cuisine. For each letter, we will make a tasty vegetable dish that illustrates one manner in which vegetables are savored in India.

B is for Bharli Mirchi: Stuffed Vegetables
After the quick and easy stir-fried aloo gobi, we are ready to take vegetables to a more festive level. Stuffed vegetables are beloved in many cuisines. From the Eastern European stuffed cabbage rolls to the classic appetizer of stuffed mushrooms, we do love hollowing out veggies and stuffing them with something delicious. The final dish is so much more than the sum of its parts.

In India, stuffed vegetables are a beautiful way to showcase an array of vegetables and prepare them for special occasions. There is something immensely satisfying about choosing the perfect vegetable, loving prepping each one by hand, filling it gently with some spicy goodness and cooking it to perfection. From the rich bharwa bhindi (stuffed okra) of North India to the nutty stuffed baby eggplants of many South Indian cuisines, there are dozens of recipes to choose from.

When I wondered what stuffed vegetable to make for this series, my thoughts jumped back to meals of my childhood, when I would be unfailingly delighted to find bharli mirchi being served for lunch. Bharli mirchi- literally translating as stuffed pepper in Marathi- is a dish of green peppers stuffed with a spicy potato mixture and fried to the point where their skin is charred and the whole pepper is luscious and juicy. Each bite is a delicious combination of succulent pepper and tasty mashed potato. It is truly a special dish for me, and this was my first time making it myself. I put together the recipe based on what I remembered about this dish from years ago, and at the first whiff of the heavenly aroma and the first bite, I was delighted at how much it tasted like the bharli mirchi of my memories!

Bharli Mirchi

1. Prepare 4 green peppers by washing them, then making a long slit length-wise and pulling out the stem and most of the seeds and membranes, like so:
If your peppers taper at the bottom, cut a thin slice off so the pepper can stand up.
2. Make the stuffing: Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Temper it with 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida. Add 1 medium minced onion and 2-3 minced cloves of garlic. Saute until the onion is just browning. Turn down the heat. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder and salt to taste. Stir in 3 large boiled, mashed potatoes and mix well to incorporate the spices. Continue cooking until the potatoes are heated through completely. Turn off the heat and stir in 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 2 tbsp minced cilantro. The stuffing has to be very well-seasoned for the final dish to be tasty.
3. When the stuffing is cool enough to handle, divide it in four portions and stuff the peppers gently.
4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a deep skillet. Place the peppers, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt and then proceed to fry them on medium-low heat, turning every few minutes so that the skin on all sides gets charred. As the peppers cook, they release juices that can sizzle and splatter in the pan, so keep the skillet covered except for turning the peppers every few minutes. Don't forget to place them on their top and bottom so those sides get cooked too. It took me about 30 minutes to cook the peppers completely.
5. There you have it: Marathi-style stuffed peppers. Serve warm or at room temperature. They might not be much to look at, but they taste divine, and this dish is a must-try!

Variations on a theme:
This dish would be lovely with different kinds of peppers, such as sweet Italian peppers or the long tapering banana peppers. It would be nice to serve a platter of assorted stuffed peppers.

How do you serve this dish?
I love bharli mirchi with rotis or parathas. It is wonderful rolled up in any flatbread, basically. Bharli marchi tastes good hot or at room temperature, making it an unusual and delicious picnic treat.

Here is a round-up show-casing some delicious Indian-style stuffed vegetables from fellow bloggers :

Green Peppers stuffed with Kidney Beans from Lima-Delhi,
Stuffed Tomato in Makhani Gravy from Past, Present and Me,
Stuffed Baby Eggplants from Mahanandi,
Stuffed Okra from Aayi's Recipes,
Stuffed Ridge Gourd Curry from Sailu's Food, and
Mixed Stuffed Veggies from Spice is Right.

Any ideas for the C of Indian vegetables? See you in a few!


  1. Nupur, I am loving your A-Z! I've already started a list of Indian spices and ingredients to add to my pantry. Looking forward to "C"....

  2. Those peppers look amazing and I want to eat one right now. :) This "A to Z" thing is a great idea and I look forward to all the dishes to come as well.

  3. Wow- those peppers are definitely going on my "to-make" list! So colorful and delicious looking.
    I can't think of many vegetables, but lots of C herbs and spices: cumin, coriander, cilantro...
    celery? (I don't even know if celery are common in Indian cooking)
    crudites, or some kind of raw vegetable presentation?

    I'll be quiet now. =)

  4. Nupur,
    I love your blog! I have been lurking here for some time now:-)
    I just made aloo-gobi & your "Tuesday soup" today . Both came out really well .Although the soup did not look like the one in your pic, it tasted really yummmmmmmmmy .I have picked out some recipes from here for trying soon.
    The new look of your blog is good though I kinda liked the old one a little more. This one is a little too bright. Please do not take this the wrong way.
    Keep up the good work & keep dishing out those great recipes!

  5. That's a lovely recipe. I really like stuffed shimla mirch.

  6. That looks absolutely delicious Nupur. Thanks for sharing.

  7. aah! my fav...i love bharli mirchi more than bharli vangi...I broil them in the oven instead of in a skillet.Also red pepper and yellow/orange pepper have thier own unique flavor,different from green Yellow/Orange pepper is sweetish and juicy,whereas red pepper has a zing and spice to it. Try that next time
    whats for c? chole,chavli amti...

  8. Am i glad you are back to regular blogging! That too with another A to Zee series...its gonna keep us hooked. Cya around Nupur.

  9. Lydia, yes, it will be fun to include some Indian ingredients in the perfect pantry!

    Thanks, Lisa! "C" will come up this weekend so stay tuned.

    Bazu, one of your guesses is on the right track :) No, celery is not really part of Indian cooking that I know of.

    Anon., glad the recipes worked! Thanks for the feedback...I'll keep changing the look every few months :) Keep coming back!

    Krithika and Pavani, thanks for stopping by!

    Supriya, you have some great suggestions there, maybe I will include them in the list of variations.
    Chole are not really veggies and chavli amti was the "C" of Marathi keep guessing :)

    Nandita, thanks for stopping by!

  10. droolworthy!!!!

  11. Hi Nupur,

    Your re-do looks great. Also, I just tagged you for a meme. (don't feel obligated to do it!).
    I had to laugh when I just looked at your post, as you'll see if you look at the last of my "five" things.


  12. Hi... the bharli simla mirchi looks yummy!
    C.. Lets C... ok, ok, PJ!!! anyway.. Chavli cha shenga? chavli greens (dunno if u can get them here)cooked in buttermilk ,marathi 'chatka'(i think this is something to do with chili paste.. like 'ranzka' of Karnataka....
    Oh ... I'm sure u will come up with something wonderful!

  13. Hi Nupur, the peppers look so inviting!! Love them when they're slow-cooked that way, and the stuffing sounds great.

    "C". Hmm...chukka? chutney? Will be awaiting :)

  14. hi nupur, grt looking bharli mirchi. look same like the ones anji makes in yr moms home....ymmmmmmmmmmm. luv yoma.

  15. On a separate note, your dog is absolutely gorgeous!!!

  16. Hi Nupur - Glad to see you back and with such a succulent, delicious recipe! Stuffed peppers are delicious, I usually try to bake'em, I'll have to try out your method of pan searing.

  17. Hi Nupur,

    Bharli Mirchi looks great! I am really looking forward to the rest of this series.

    By the way, I noticed a minor typo in your blog archive. There seem to be two 2005s. You might want to correct that.


  18. Bee, Thanks!

    Hi Karen, I'll do the meme this green-pepper-hater, you :)

    Manasi, ha ha good one :) love all your ideas!

    Linda, they tasted really wonderful. Love you "C" suggestions :)

    Yoma, Anji was the inspiration behind them! I doubt I will ever be able to cook food as tasty as hers!

    Nachiketas, thanks :) we think so too. We also think he is absolutely spoilt, that brat!

    Monisha, love the idea of baking them...I should do that next time!

    Swati, you are certainly observant! I had noticed that but it was a built-in blogger widget and they seem to have fixed that themselves today.

  19. Yum green peppers and potatoes - sounds fanstastic. I loved your first A-Z vegetable recipe and I just know I'm going to love this one too!

  20. Sahee....I had once tasted bharli mirchi with paneer in the filling..lai zakkas! Try that and post me the recipe ;))

  21. Nupur,
    The stuffed peppers can be baked in a covered tray (with aluminium foil) after spraying the tray and peppers with oil.

    20-25 minutes at 350'F would leave them yummy and avoid teh oil used in shallow frying...Lkmi

  22. Infact, The peppers can be arranged on a sprayed cup cake/muffin pan ; cover with aluminium foil.This is much easier than a large tray...Lkmi

  23. This recipe totally rocked Nupur. I dont think i have ever made a "bharwa" anything. They smelled delish and tasted heavenly. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  24. Hey Nupur just tried this recipe turned out to be fabulous ....Thnx:)
    Ashwini Bichu

  25. Tried this recipe today and it was extremely tasty. Thanks, Rehana

  26. I've made this recipe several times since I first discovered it 4 years ago. I LOOOOOOVE it!! Made it today again after a long time and served it with some rice and spinach dal - ah, such a comfort meal. It would probably be a great dish for dinner guests (small group). Can just make the filling a day ahead and then just stuff and cook on the day of.
    Have tried both baking and stove top - stove top wins. Baking makes the filling a bit dry.
    Thanks Nupur!!


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