July 23, 2012

Indian-style Bell Peppers with Chickpea Flour

The other day I was making daal and rice for dinner. While that seemed perfectly acceptable to me, I kept hearing my mom's voice in my head, saying "You can't serve just daal and rice. At least make a vegetable!" So I opened my produce drawer. Two bell peppers. One red. One green. Each left over from something I had planned to make, but obviously never did.

chickpea flour
Bell peppers aren't something I normally cook Indian-style, so I wasn't sure what to do with them. I opened up India: The Cookbook, an encyclopedia of Indian cooking. And I found a recipe that required just two ingredients (besides the spices I always have in my pantry): bell peppers and chickpea flour.

Chickpea flour may sound unusual. But if you've ever eaten at an Indian restaurant, you've probably tried it. It's the flour that's used to coat the fried fritters known as pakoras. In Indian stores, chickpea flour is usually labeled as either "gram flour" or "besan." It's delicious. It's nutritious. And it's gluten-free. 

Dice up the bell peppers.

Place chickpea flour in a bowl.

Add chili powder, some of the turmeric, sugar and salt. Mix together.

Heat oil in a saucepan. When it's hot, add asafetida and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start popping, add the rest of the turmeric. Heat for another minute.

Add the bell peppers and stir fry until they're half tender. It's not easy to tell when something is half-tender. I should have let mine cook a little longer. 

When the peppers are half cooked, add the chickpea flour. Stir to coat the bell peppers in the flour.

Cook for another five minutes or so until the peppers are tender and the flour has turned golden brown. When it's properly cooked, the flour will also lose it's "raw" smell.

Serve with flatbread or alongside daal and rice.

Indian-style Bell Peppers with Chickpea Flour

Recipe very slightly adapted from India: The Cookbook

1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
3 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafetida
6 bell peppers, cored, deseeded, and cut into small pieces

1.    Put the chickpea flour, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, salt to taste and sugar in a bowl. Mix together.

2.    Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the asafetida and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the remaining turmeric. Stir fry for 1 minute.

3.    Add the peppers and cook over high heat for a few minutes until they are half-tender.

4.    Reduce the heat to medium and add the chickpea flour mixture. Mix well until the peppers are well coated with the flour.

5.    Cook for another 5 minutes or so until the peppers are tender and the flour is golden brown.

Serves 6

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