mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Stuffed Chillies

In on the side, Under 30 min! on December 6, 2006 at 7:08 pm

Green Chillies 01

It’s time for stuffed chillies again!

Cooking continues to be very seasonal here in India. And I hope that tie-ups with global giants with their low-prices-everyday will not change this.

Seasonal changes are less perceptible in the urban landscape of most of India. The majestic Himalayas cast their wondrous spell only in the North and North-east and help keep most of India pretty warm year around. So, only a few of us see the changing seasons reflected in spring flowers, summer blooms, colourful autumns, and a white winter. If there are no summer flowers, then that is when our trees pull out all the stops. Who can compete with the Gulmohur or the Amaltas (Indian Laburnum) at the height of summer?

But all of us see the change in the seasonal availability of produce. The coastal areas, while probably seeing most vegetables year–round (where’s the fun in that!), get their fruits when ’tis the season. You can get gorgeous red apples and kiwis from New Zealand in the summer, but their exorbitant pricing restricts the clientele to ex-pats. Besides, who’s going to eat Rs200/kg apples when you can have mangoes for 40!! No competition there. And the mango season in Delhi is really long (Thank you, dear God) – starting in May with mangoes from the South (Totapuri -yuk- and Safeda – yum), to well into July when we finish off with the UP jewels, Dusseri and Langda.

But summer is far away. Let me get back to winter. Delhi is chilly – there has been snow in the mountains. All the watery squashes have made way for cabbages, cauliflowers, radishes, carrots, mustard, methi, bathua and the many other greens.

And chillies are having their own parade. There are the fiery slim and long ones (sorry, don’t have names), and then the ones that we wait eagerly for – the plump and fleshy ones – the achar ki mirch (pickling chillies). First they come in their green avatars and later in their red splendor – both are lovingly stuffed with spices and pickled in oil for the year ahead.

Maharashtrians also stuff these with besan to make an absolutely awesome accompaniment to an Indian meal. I generally prefer it served with a roti-subzi-dal combination and not rice. But that is just my preference.

The amounts are approximate because like most everyone I eye my chillies and then guesstimate the amount of ingredients I am likely to need. Any extra stuffing can be pressed into small fistfuls and steamed with the chillies towards the end of the cooking process. You can use any fleshy chillies that are medium-hot. In the US I used to use either Anaheim or jalapeño peppers!

Stuffed Chillies
(bharleli mirchi)
Stuffed Chillies 01

12-18 fleshy green chillies such as jalapeños
1 ½ C besan (chickpea flour)
1 t salt
½ t turmeric
1 C chopped coriander (cilantro)
juice of half a lemon
¼ C + 2 t oil (or there-abouts)
1 t mustard seeds
pinch heeng (asafetida)

Wash, top, slit and de-seed the chillies. In a bowl combine the next five ingredients. The coriander and the lemon juice are all the moisture you need – no water. Now pour in sufficient oil so that the mixture holds its shape when pressed into a fist. This is not the place to go all low-fat now. Remember, you’ll probably have just one at any meal. The oil keeps the stuffing moist and crumbly; without that it will be hard and the chillies will be nothing to write home about.

Stuff the chillies with the mixture. Press any remaining stuffing into fists and keep aside. These come in handy to mix in and lessen the heat impact while eating, should the chillies turn out to be super hot.

Heat two teaspoons of oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add the mustard seeds and cover. After the mustard has done its spluttering, add the pinch of heeng, and then the stuffed chillies. Toss and cover with a lid onto which you can pour a little water (half a cup or so). I have yet to understand the principle behind this step, but I do it because my MIL did. Maybe someone can enlighten? Helps trap steam better? Provides additional heat from the top?

Cook at very low heat, for 12-15 min, tossing every few min. Add any stuffing-fists you may have kept aside and cover and cook another 4-5 min.

The chillies are best the day they are made but refrigerated will keep for a week in an air-tight container. All Maharashtrians must make these. And those of you who never have, well this is an absolute keeper of a recipe. They are easy enough to make, so go find out.

Tags: green chillies, stuffed chillies, stuffed chilies, chilies, under 30 min, Maharashtrian cuisine, Delhi

  1. Hi Anita,
    The Stuffed Chillies are very Yummy!!🙂 I will make them this weekend. You have now inspired me to do so:) Sanjay would love those!! Have you tried using Poblano peppers instead of Anaheim variety?

    Anaheim and jalapenos are what I used. This is so winter food for us. And today I went all out: we had methi chi golabhaji, bhakri (bajra), til chutney and these! Totally Maharashtrian!

  2. Anita, yeh galat baat hai ! you are making me homesick. Gulmohar … bathua … I really miss those here. I just cannot find bathua here. Indian stores here have never heard of bathua .. kya yaar ? Coming back to your recipe, I am definitely going to try this. Looks fabulous !

    Now, Krithika, you can’t have everything! You have your fancy-shmancy cheeses, and pastas (and wine too!), while we have to push methi and bathua! Just so you know how envy feels!🙂

  3. Me too! Home sick:D
    All those delicious chillies are mouthwatering, just to look at them is enough!
    Enjoy you lucky girl.

    He, he..🙂 But you can always make these anytime with jalapenos!

  4. I haven’t heard of bathua either. And that was going to be my first question: pray, do tell us of the genus ignoramus what bathua is!
    Anita, I have a theory about water on the lid: it’s something that has been passed down through the generations, from the time when cooking was done on a chula in the ground. There were no clocks so water on the lid was used as an approximate timer without having to keep opening the lid to check. Opening the lid frequently lets the steam escape and you don’t want that for foods you cook on low heat. When the water has evaporated, the food is cooked/ready. Well, that’s my theory!

    And a very plausible theory it seems too! Hmm, simple. And the simplest explanation is usually right!

    And bathua is a small leaved winter green that is popularly (in North India) made into bathua paranthas, just like methi paranthas. Maybe I should do a post on the bountyful winter in North India…make all of you in videsh really really miss home!

  5. Awwww…those chillies in the first picture look sooo cute! Your stuffed peppers look great too. I feel like to make some soon.

    I go to vege shopping once a week, and have to buy some every time. They look so adorably delicious!

  6. Anita I tried out paparia ref. Manisha’s IFR. They were yummy. BTW I too had made these mirchis don’t they taste yummy? But my pictures weren’t as good so I did’nt post. I am going to try the white bread you had made soon. Thanks

    Yes, I think Paparia got a new life when I posted about them and Manisha made them!
    The mirchis are a staple at our winter table…Do make the bread (and the bagels!) and tell us about it.

  7. I just added this recipe to my must-make-soon folder🙂 Thanks!

  8. AHHH!!!!! wonderful recipe🙂

    Can I give a tip here….. When I made this the first time, after i deseeded all the chillies my hands were burning the whole day!!!!! So from next time on, I wore the plastic household gloves and deseeded the chillies. Sigh!!!! what a relief!!!

    A great tip! In India though, gloves are still not part of everyday equipment, so we tend to forget.

  9. Hi,

    I luv reading your posts. By the way, I’m a south indian married to a Maharashtrian..so I totally connect with your posts !

    I’ve seen my MIL pour water on the lid too. I always thought that it was to keep hot water handy ..to add to the dish when required! That way it saves fuel,time without compromising on that important rule..never mix hot and cold ingredients while cooking.

    Keep writing !

    Hi Kamala. Makes me very happy to know that you are one of my (few🙂 ) regular readers. I used to dream about being a writer and so this blog is a little more than just recipes. My dreams have come true – and I don’t have to worry about ‘rejection letters’ either!! I am my own editor and publisher!

    The water-on-the-lid bit: I think Manisha may have hit the nail on the head. At least in this recipe I know that we do not add water at any stage. But I can see that your ‘tip’ can be put to good use…and conserve energy as well. I’m a sucker for saving energy!🙂

  10. I used to wear these artificial thingees called contact lenses till the dry air of Colorado cured me of this infliction and had me wearing soda water bottle glasses again. If you have ever ever inserted a lens in your eye after handling chillies, you know the kind of pain I am talking about. Therefore, even though I was gloveless in India, I would use scissors, a fork and a knife while working with chillies. I was always laughed at. Called ‘naajhook’ or firangi or worse. But the pain was simply unbearable…

  11. give me methi and bathua anyday ! i dont care for fancy-shmancy cheeses and wine ! BTW, bathua’s botanical name is Chenopodium album (lambsquarters)

    Okey-dokey, girl! Whaccha doing over there? Get back here!🙂
    And thanks on the botanic name…I bet it’ll be there next year at that Indian market near you!

  12. Hi Anita,

    What a coincidence!!! This morning we were talking about a farmer’s market (not big as the word makes you think) that was sighted on our way to work. The owner has a huge farm right off the road side(since its fenced, one cannot guage the amount of land he has!!) where he apparently grows veggies…and we all thought that was just an ordinary nursery:)) But since yesterday he has started selling his produce. Beautiful red tomatoes, long eggplants (chinese kind), green peppers, a variety of squash and a container full of Poblano chillies. They looked so irresistible that we decided to go during our lunch break to get them. I even mentioned to my friends how Aai used to stuff Poblano chillies. When I checked your blog…there is was!!! Now, is that a sign making me do this receipe?…indeed it is…I will be making them for sure!!!

    A sure sign, Aparna! Go for it!

  13. Hi Anita

    Spicy yet yummy recipe. I cannot wait to get the Jalapenos.

    Try it. You’ll love them. Some readers have suggested the milder poblanos but they are a tad bit larger – too much stuffing per pepper – and stuffing is where the oil is!

  14. These chillies are setting up a nice warmth here with all interacting🙂. Anita n Manisha you gals are funny.

  15. Much awaited recipe is here! Yes.

    Yes, this one is for you, Minnie!

  16. That’s beautiful…two co incidences, writing abt how winter brings in beautiful fresh veggies, and a regular to the market can tell the difference just like that! Besides, Khana khazana mein sanjeev kapoor had made these stuffed chillies, which i promptly tried out. Turned out super. I used what’s called as Bhavnagari mirchi in Bombay (from Bhavnagar in Gujarat), but i’m sure its the same as what your picture shows.

    I made it my usual low oil way, and there was nothing wrong with the taste, with garam garam phulka, just roll a chilli in and it is bliss…

    Thanks for blogging abt this dear! The Shakti concert yesterday was just so soul stirring, i believe they are in delhi in the next 2 days or so.

    Yup, noticed the winter vegge spread over at your place yesterday!! We even use similar phrases sometimes! Great minds think alike?

    Don’t get to watch Sanjeev Kapoor these days…catching up with favourite blogs takes all my free time!

  17. yum! I just happen to have a ton of chilis in my fridge. i’m a little worried they may be to hot…but, I think I’ll give your recipe a try and keep a tissue handy in case my eyes start tearing🙂

    Hi Carolyn. I know you will love these, hot or not!

  18. These sound so good. I love the way you write your recipes. I would love to be in India for mango season. I can’t imagine all the different varieties you have there.

    Julie, you will need to be really brave (Heat and Dust!) if you want to taste great mangoes here in India. In Delhi the mango season peaks with summer – May-June is the best time, and also the hottest – 42 C hot!! But it’s true, the mangoes make it worth it!

  19. great:-) will try this tomorrow:-)

  20. 42 C!!! I hope it’s not humid too at that time?! Well, speaking of hotness, I just finished making these. They’re excellent! Most duh-lish-us… I used jalapenos and, though I thought they’d be scorching my mouth, they were just right in heat level. In fact, if I make these again before the chile season here, which is like MONTHS away -when I can get my hands on a wider variety at the open markets, I’m gonna add a bit of ground chiles to the stuffing. Just for fun. These are so pretty too! Kind of like “reverse pakoras”…Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

    Yes, Delhi can get pretty hot. But it stays very dry (till July, when the monsoon rains approach), so our evaporative coolers can bring it down to a really cool 24-28!
    You thought these weren’t hot enough!! Yes reverse pakoras that are good even at room temp!

  21. Oh Anita-
    I make dishes with Habanero chiles once in a while- such as Ixni Pec- just to perk things up! Hey…I bet they’d be good with this recipe…just kidding, even I don’t think I could manage it. Or could I? Hmmmm… They’d be a great thing to bring to a large “pot luck” gathering, where I could just sneak a plate in…and then stand a few paces away and watch! [laughs mischievously]

  22. […] me, was not only heavily inspired by one from this book, but by several other recipes, most notably bharleli mirchi from Anita and her mother-in-law, Manisha’s lovely transcription of a recipe for thakkali […]

  23. […] same-phali, methi, and… the Bhavnagri mirchi! We have already enjoyed the season’s first bharleli mirchi. Try the recipe if you haven’t already – it’s amongst the best this blog has to offer. Pel […]

  24. […] yoghurt, better. Slice some mooli (daikon radish) on the side, or maybe you have some leftover bharleli mirchi, and you have put together a delicious meal in a […]

  25. about the water on the lid.. I guess thats something very peculiar to Maharashtrians.. My Mom did it too..
    It actually prevents the food from drying up and sticking to the pan .. ad helps the food cook in its on juices,. and later if at all.. hot water is required to be added.. viola.. its right on top of the pan..

    It is interesting to uncover the logic behind the things we do by habit…

  26. hi,
    absolutely loved this recipe……
    U know me n my other half of 5 yrs had one of our regular once in a while tiff and i was quite miffed and so I made these stuffed chillies with phulka for dinner(to reflect my mood!!!) and what do u know we both loved it so much that it helped us get over our tiff…so thanks a ton for this sizzling recipe,which kept us laughing and crying as it was so hot…..btw, love u r blog….keep up the great wk…

    Well, well… hot chilles can also cool! Happy to have been a part of the making-up meal!😀

  27. Hi Anita,

    I am forced to de-lurk now to compliment you on your excellent recipes….I have guests coming over tonight and apart from the usual curry, sookhi sabzi,pulao, raita etc, I also ended makinng these chillies..it has turned out so delicious that really, you must be rewarded…it adds that extra zing to the table. I am from UP, and my guests are some bengali and some malyali’s including hubby, I am so looking forward to their reaction!! Will tell you too!

    For the record, I swear by all your recipes and have tried most of it…my mallu hubby is a convert to north indian khana thanks to you!! Yayyyy!
    Not a day goes by when I dont try something from your repertoire!! Easy, tasty and straight to hubby’s heart!

    Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

    Regards
    Harshika
    Home-maker learning to cook-Dubai

  28. Bathua- or pigweed- is pretty common green leafy vegetable in North India. I love it too, both as paranthas or raita.

    About water on the lid. My mom said that this was to trap the moisture while cooking. The rising steam cools down and forms droplets of moisture within the vessel, which in turn prevents the food from drying up.

  29. We crossed your part of the world while returning from Mussoorie. Happy New Year!

    I did want to stop, but we were in a big group and everyone really wanted to get back home and get ready for the week ahead🙂

    How will this taste with red chillies? I saw those at Safal yesterday.

    I pour water on the lid at times too… because they showed it in the hawkins ad for the hard anodised vessel I bought.🙂 I think it helps prevent charring🙂

    All you need are fleshy, not-too-hot chillies…go ahead with the red ones, I say.

  30. hi.. thanks for the nice recipe..they turned out to be fabulous and i was an instant hit with my in-laws. The principle behind adding water to the lid is that it keeps the veggies inside from burning. Water being able to evaporate at 100deg takes up all the excess heat… this was the stuff gets adequately cooked and there is no charring or burning of the stuff… this is especially helpful in case of steel/iron vessels which do not have the protection of the coated pans..

    This is a family favourite – like the rest of the food here!
    Thanks for trying and all the information, Deepti.

  31. […] are based on a traditional Maharashtrian recipe for Stuffed Chillies (Bharleli Mirchi) from A Mad Tea Party. Peppers are stuffed with a spiced chickpea flour (besan) mixture and cooked to spicy, tender […]

  32. I just looked thru the comments list and realize I have not thanked you for this recipe. I must have made it a dozen times after you have posted it and it has been a hit everytime.

    Its easy, breezy and still has a very high yummy quotient. Thanks

    Right, AAMom; a simple recipe that delivers. These green chillies are seasonal here so have to wait a couple of months before I can start making them again!

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