The lazy cook’s stuffed capsicum
In the days when capsicum was not BELL PEPPER and it was neither red nor yellow, only green, mum used to cook it with potatoes. A simple dish which killed the capsicum’s bite totally. It was not something that I missed at all but managed to chew and swallow to cure hunger pangs. What I really liked was my mum’s excellent salad of capsicum cut into long slim juliennes, dipped and rested in lemon juice. Making that needed a heavy dose of labour of love.
When I moved out of my parent’s house, I never made the effort to buy capsicums to cook – making that salad which needed some patience was out of question – though I did come to enjoy red and yellow BELL PEPPERS in salads and oriental preparations at other people’s homes or in restaurants. Soon enough I ended up marrying a man who hated capsicums with all his might and the only way he could think of them being edible was if they were stuffed with potatoes. S wasn’t interested in cooking at all. I was busy with work. We had a healthy turnover of cooks, none of who were interested in cooking beyond a regular simple meal – stuffed dishes were not on their list. Capsicums fell off our cooking shelf rather quickly.
Two decades later, with our now pre-teen and eminently creative daughter showing interest in capsicums, I decided to make the stuffed version. She really enjoyed it – in hindsight I think what fascinated her more than the taste itself was the idea that one could cook a vegetable by stuffing it with another. It tickled her creative buds more than anything else. Bereft of my creative gene since birth, it took me some time to figure this out.
While I may be lacking in creativity, these genetic accidents haven’t deprived me of the lethargy material in my DNA – how am I to blame for that? I researched hard – hanging my lethargy in the cupboard for that brief period – looking for a less careful and exhausting method of cooking stuffed capsicums. Learning from different versions I devised this process, cutting out effort from all corners, retaining only the most essential parts. No frying of onions to mix them with mashed potatoes, no cooking of onion-tomato-garlic-ginger masala for the stuffing, and no shallow frying of stuffed capsicums which requires frequent stirring.
- 2 medium sized green capsicum – no one can stop you from using red or yellow BELL PEPPERS for the same, do what you feel like
- 2 medium sized boiled potatoes
- 1 small finely copped onion
- 1 finely chopped green chilly or more as per your taste, it would mean more effort though!
- 1-2 tea spoon ground roasted cumin – know that you need to roast first and then grind!
- 1 teaspoon dried raw mango powder – optional
- Salt to taste
- 25 gms butter – use more if you like it that way
- Put the butter in a mixing bowl along with warm boiled, peeled potatoes.
- If the potatoes are not warm you’ll have to make the effort of melting butter, remember effort is what we are trying to cut here!!
- Rest for a minute, the warmth of potatoes would have melted the butter once you get back to the grind.
- Use a fork to mash potatoes and mix butter in.
- Add chopped onions, mix again. Add chopped green chilly, roasted cumin powder, dried raw mango powder and salt. Mix well.
- Taste. It should be slightly high on salt and spice if you were to eat this mash on its own with out the capsicum shell.
- Pre-heat the oven at 150 degrees C
- Halve the capsicums – or BELL PEPPERS if you please.
- Remove the seeds gently shaking the halves.
- Fill these shells well with the potato mix stopping a little short of the top.
- When the capsicums cook they shrink and the potato mix has lesser space.
- Over filling them will make the mix spill out and then you may have to expend some effort in cleaning the spill or trying to make the spill look beautiful!!
- Cover the baking tray with aluminium foil – less effort than oiling it and later cleaning the mess, this way you just bin the foil after the baking and most times the tray come out clean and dry.
- Place stuffed capsicum shells on the tray and shove the tray into the oven.
- Bake at 220-200 degrees C.
- Now relax, sip on a tall glass of lemonade, you have toiled much.
- After about 25 to 30 minutes depending on how big a bite you want in the capsicum shell, take the tray out. Or keep it in the oven if you are going to serve soon.
- Serve warm.
- Refrigerate leftovers and warm them at 50 degrees C for 5-7 minutes before serving.
I cook 3 big or 4 medium capsicums at one time, between the daughter and father they cover for at least two meals. If like me you enjoy the mashed mix without the capsicum, save some from the stuffing. It goes really well with steamed rice, I can have it just like that too. Now go back to being your lazy self!