stuffed bell peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown Table

One would think nightmares concerning exams and tests stop after school. Nope, they don't, well at least for me, they haven't! Probably once a month, I have a calculus meets language exam dream that will freak me out. I can never remember all the details but from what I do recall, the dream involves me sitting in a classroom, trying to figure out the answers to questions involving limits and integrals in a different language, a language that I doesn't exists. The clock keeps ticking while I try to figure out the answer to the first question on a very long sheet of paper and thankfully during this mental moment of panic, I wake up. Simply put, I think I'm afraid of the unknown, at least that's what I think it means. However, there are times I am also super excited about things I don't know anything about. For example, with dishes where I have no idea what's inside and the kind that might hold a tasty surprise hidden. Stuffed bell peppers bring on that kind of excitement for me!

Stuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown TableStuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown Table

Our farmer's market has a ton of gorgeous types of bell peppers and they appear to be getting much more vibrant and bigger by the week. So this weekend, I goaded M into picking some up for me to overstuff and pan sear and of course, more importantly eat! You can use any type as long as they are large enough to stuff and you have a pan wide enough to fit them in. 

Stuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown TableStuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown Table

Whenever we ate stuffed bell peppers at home, they would be stuffed them with this spiced pea and potato filling. The filling is simple and easy to make and if you have leftover filling, you can eat it as a side with your main course. I like to squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the cooked bell peppers, that little hint of sour with the spiced filling and blistered papers makes one tasty parcel of goodness. 

Stuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown Table
Stuffed Bell Peppers | A Brown Table

stuffed bell peppers with pea and potato filling

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 lb baby potatoes (you can also use regular sized)

2 teaspoons olive oil + a little extra to brush the bell peppers

1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1  1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt

1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh

4 medium sized firm bell peppers (about 6 inches in height, any color will do)

1 fresh lime

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro/parsley, fresh

1. Cube the potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold tap water. Rinse them to remove any starch under running tap water. Place the potatoes in a medium-size stockpot, cover with water and bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat. Cook the potatoes until they are just tender but not mushy. (Another alternative to boiling, is to place the potatoes in a microwave safe container and cover with water. Heat on high for 8 minutes until the potatoes are just tender). Drain the water, mash the potatoes lightly with a fork or potato masher and keep the potatoes aside.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet with a lid on medium-high. As soon as the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and allow to cook until the seeds begin to sputter. Immediately add the garam masala, chili powder and onion, stir to coat evenly and reduce flame to medium-low, cook until onion is light pink.

3. Add the potatoes, turmeric and salt. Stir to coat evenly and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook for about 10 minutes with occasional stirring. Fold in the peas and then cook for another 5 minutes with a covered lid. Once the peas are cooked, remove from stove and keep the mixture aside. 

4. Slice the top of each of the bell peppers about 1/2 inch from the top. Remove the lid of the bell pepper and remove any seed that are inside. Generously stuff each pepper with the pea and potato filling prepared earlier and cover with the sliced lid. Pass two bamboo skewers through each stuffed bell pepper and cut off any extra length of the skewer. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet with a lid on medium-high flame. Brush each stuffed bell pepper with  the extra oil and place them in the hot skillet. Cover with a lid and cook and rotate each side until the skin of the bell pepper gets slightly blistered. This should take about 1 minute on each side of the pepper. The skewers will help to hold the bell peppers together while they cook. Once the peppers are cooked, remove and discard the skewers. Remove the lid of each bell pepper, garnish with a little fresh cilantro or parsley leaves and squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the stuffing. Place the lid back on top of the pepper leaving it slightly open. Serve warm. 

dum aloo

dum aloo - Pan Seared Baby Potaotes in a Spicy Indian Tomato Yogurt Gravy | A Brown Table

Comfort food means different things to everyone, I get a little baffled when people ask me to name my favorite. For one, I have a favorite comfort food for each meal of the day, my choices also vary by season and my favorites will vary and if that isn't crazy enough, sometimes I want to pick my favorite comfort food by geography. But despite this overwhelming web of complexity that I create for myself, it would be easier for me to pick my favorite comfort ingredients. In that list, without a doubt I'd definitely include potatoes!

dum aloo - Pan Seared Baby Potaotes in a Spicy Indian Tomato Yogurt Gravy | A Brown Table

One of my favorite ways to prepare potatoes is in this spicy, tangy and creamy sauce that hails from the North of India known dum aloo. Dum is a cooking technique where vegetables or meats are allowed to cook in their own steam and the vapors of a small amount of fat. We ate this dish often as kids and I'm sure my father still makes this dish whenever possible, as this is one of his favorites.

Traditionally, baby potatoes are deep-fried and then folded into a simmering pot of a rich cream and yogurt based sauce. This version is a little different, for one, I decided to brighten the colors a little by using a bag of mixed colored baby potatoes. Fingerlings would also work great here! I skipped the deep-frying part and instead decided to sear the potatoes in their jackets ,a little and cook them until they were lightly crisp and browned on each side. Instead of heavy cream, I scaled up the amount of plain yogurt and got a thicker and richer flavor using the Greek kind. 

dum aloo - Pan Seared Baby Potaotes in a Spicy Indian Tomato Yogurt Gravy | A Brown Table

You can use ghee (the more traditional choice) or olive oil here, it's up to you. Fresh tomatoes and aromatics make the base of this delicious sauce that is flavored with a delicious mixture of spices. Serve this dum aloo fresh and hot with a side of India flatbread such as roti or naan or even plain rice and a side of chilled plain yogurt and a salad.  

dum aloo - Pan Seared Baby Potaotes in a Spicy Indian Tomato Yogurt Gravy | A Brown Table

dum aloo

yields: 4 servings

ingredients 

2 lbs baby potatoes (colored)/ fingerlings

3 tablespoons ghee/olive oil 

2 cups tomatoes, diced

1 cup red onion, diced 

1 thai chili pepper 

1 garlic clove

1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and chopped

2 cloves

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric 

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt 

3/4  cup plain greek yogurt, lightly whipped

a little fresh cilantro for garnish

1.  Rinse the potatoes under cold tap water, wipe them dry and slice the potatoes in half across their length.   Prick the potatoes twice with the prongs of a fork. Heat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet with a lid on a medium-low flame. Add 1 tablespoon of the ghee/oil and heat for 30 seconds. Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook them on each side until they are lightly browned and get light brown blisters on each side. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Remove the potatoes and sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. The potatoes should be almost tender but not completely cooked.

2. Grind all the ingredients from the tomatoes to the turmeric in a blender until smooth. Keep aside. (You can also grind the tomato-chili-ginger-garlic and dry spices separately and then mix them together but I find this to a better way as it uses less equipment and the cleanup is less)

3. Heat the rest of the oil in a wok or saucepan with a lid on medium-high. Add the pureed tomato spice mixture from step 2. Cook this sauce for about 3-4 minutes with occasional stirring. Reduce the flame immediately to a gentle simmer, add the rest of the salt and fold in the potatoes. Cover with the wok with its lid and allow to cook untii the potatoes are completely tender but not mushy. This should take about 15 minutes. Once the potatoes are cooked, fold in the yogurt. Cook with constant stirring (to prevent burning) for about 2 minutes and remove from stove. The sauce should be thick in consistency. Taste the sauce to make sure the amount of salt is enough. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice, roti or naan.