Monday, August 20, 2012

Bell Pepper Chutney - a very amenable side kick

Work has been busy and I am not finding as much time as I would love to spend on the blog. Also since DD has another 2 weeks of Summer vacations, right now the priority for any non-working hours is to spend time with her. I am cooking and taking pictures, it is just that I haven't sat down to write about them.

By now, you all know I am a chutney gal and love them in all forms and shapes. If you love chutneys as much as I do, I guarantee that you will have your own variations of whipping up a new chutney every day, actually I made something like that today with a blend of two of my favorite chutneys and it turned out a keeper. But more on that later just because I didn't expect it to be blog worthy and hence didn't take pictures :-(. All chutneys essentially have some kind of base or ingredient to give them volume such as fried dal or nuts or vegetable peels or vegetables, then there are flavoring agents like coconut, tomatoes or onions and add ons such as ginger, mustard, coriander or fenugreek. And then the usual suspects - salt, tamarind/lemon, chilies(red/green), jaggery/sugar, if you achieve balance of these you end up with a perfect chutney no matter what you have put into them. Amma yesterday was mentioning a 'gaddi chutney' or chutney made with hay that had a King licking his fingers and brought riches to the poor old lady who served him the chutney. She just couldn't remember which place in Andhra Pradesh had that story after its name :-). As you keep experimenting, you will find many that work great together and some that do not.

Here is an easy bell pepper chutney with some roasted peanuts to give it body. BH bought me an electric grill recently and made me the happiest of the wives in the world. Blogging has its advantages when BH notices what you cook and actually works on the subtle hints you drop about gadgets that are (needed) wanted in the kitchen. Although I could have gone to the store and bought one myself, there is no fun in that as much when he gets it for me, don't you agree ;-). So, I dropped generous hints and was one happy camper to get the grill home. I have been roasting a lot of stuff on it and will post the recipes one by one.

Back to the bell pepper chutney, in the 'pre-grill' era, I used to put the slices of bell pepper in my regular oven and bake them at 350F until it turned brown on both sides. So, you can very well do this with a conventional oven or if you don't have one, no need to fret. Heat a flat pan (preferably cast iron), smear a drop or two of cooking oil on the bell pepper slices and arrange them in a single layer in the pan. Let it turn brown on one side before turning it over. Do not keep stirring but keep on eye on it to prevent burning. The idea is to roast the bell pepper and if you can get a smoky flavor (which you will with the grill or the cast iron pan), it adds to the flavor.

So choose any of the methods above and get to cook up a delicious chutney that goes well with idli, dose or rice. Added bonus, this chutney hardly uses any oil.
What do you need to make Bell Pepper Chutney? 
2 sweet bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)
2 Tblsp peanuts
1/2 Tsp crushed jaggery/brown sugar
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 dry red chili (optional)
1/2 of a small red onion
1X1 inch tamarind piece

How do you make Bell Pepper Chutney?
  • Wash, pat dry the bell peppers, cut them in half, remove the seeds.
  • Slit lengthwise and make 4 pieces from each bell pepper. 
  • Cut the onions into wide pieces. 
  • Heat a grill, coat the bell pepper and onion pieces with a couple of drops of oil, arrange them on the grill and let it roast until they are tender and cooked well. 
  • My grill took about 40 minutes on high setting. 
  • Heat a pan, roast the peanuts and red chili (if using) until peanuts start to pop and show small black spots on the skin. The raw smell should go away completely. 
  • Let everything cool down to room temperature. 
  • Take the roasted pepper, onion, peanuts, chili, tamarind, salt & jaggery and blend it in your blender. Start with the pulse mode to break the ingredients down and then run it full speed. I like to stop it just before reaching a smooth paste. Add water only if absolutely necessary. 
  • Enjoy with idli, dose or plain rice. 
  • Use the sweet bell peppers for this recipe and not the green ones, as they alter the texture and taste greatly.
  • Do not chop bell pepper or onions into small pieces, wider cuts ensure uniform roasting without letting them burn. 
  • You may remove the husk of the roasted peanuts but I like to put them in anyway. 
  • If you are using the conventional oven, turn the pieces over half way through and switch to broil mode for not more than 2 minutes at the end just to get the charred flavor. 
  • As always it is important to let the ingredients cool down before grinding them. 
  • Pulsing the ingredients breaks them down and also adds moisture from the onions and bell peppers to make the grinder work smoothly. Do this before adding any water. 
  • The bell peppers and the red onions make this chutney mild, so addition of jaggery is optional.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

it is very tasty chutney. a new one for me.

Prathibha said...

I love bell pepper chutney and also the capsicum chutney..looks delicious

notyet100 said...

Umm this looks yum,,,,new for me,

Priya said...

This flavourful chutney goes awesome as side dish with anything.

LG said...

Bell pepper & peanut must be awesome combo! Never tried, but you have tempted me to try it. Super kanta ide ri photo li :)

Roshni said...

nice idea...