Simla Mirch (Bell Pepper Curry)


1 T canola oil
3 cardamom pods
3 dried red chilis
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 lb bell peppers -- choose red, yellow, green, or a mix
1/4 cup water
1 t. salt
1 t. garam masala
4 oz paneer (optional)
chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

Cooking directions

To prepare the bell peppers, remove the ribs and seeds.  Cut up up the peppers into thin slices or pieces roughly 1-inch square.  After the peppers are cut up, you will have about 4-5 cups worth.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan with a lid.  When the oil is hot, add the cardamom and chilis and saute for about 30 seconds.  The chilis may turn black, which is fine.  You should smell the spices strongly.

Add the onion and saute until the onion turns brown. (If you are in a hurry, you can just cook the onion until it is soft.)  When the onion is brown, add a few spoons of water and use a spatula to scrape off any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Add the water, salt, and bell peppers, and stir to mix everything well.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until the peppers are meltingly soft.  Check the mixture once or twice to stir it and make sure nothing is burning.  If the water cooks away before the cooking is done, add a tablespoon or two more.

When the peppers are very soft, remove the lid, add the garam masala, mix everything well, and simmer for a few minutes until most of the liquid cooks away.

Add the paneer, if you are using it.  Stir, and cook another 2 or 3 minutes to heat the paneer through.

Serve garnished with the cilantro, if using.


- Serves 4.

- This recipe is nice served with either rice or an Indian bread such as rotis (chapatis) or puris.  You may also want to add on a dish of dal (lentils) or chickpeas (channa).  A bowl of yogurt is a good accompaniment, too, perhaps with some Indian pickles.

- The dish can be easily adapted to your personal taste -- or what's in the pantry.  For example, more or less onion will be fine, and you can add as many dried chilis as you like.  Alternatively, you can skip the dried chilis and instead add some fresh hot chilis along with the peppers.

- The recipe was inspired by a dish served to us by our friend Shveta Saggar.

Page last updated: 5/10/09