Alu-Mirch Sabzi


I think I promised this recipe to people on Twitter a couple of months ago. It’s a very simple preparation of potatoes and peppers that I improvized some years ago to deal with the deluge of bell and other large hot and sweet peppers every August from our CSA—the excellent Open Hands farm. It’s made with very few ingredients, comes together very quickly and is very versatile: you can have it as a side with dal and rice (it’s particularly good with more lightly flavoured dals like this moong dal or this mushoor dal); it’s also very good with chapatis and parathas; and you can also eat it as as a side with non-Indian dishes in place of any roasted or sauteed potato dish (or even potato salad, for that matter). What kind of pepper(s) you use is entirely your call, as is the proportion of potato to pepper. It will be tasty no matter what your choices are.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • The equivalent of 1-2 large bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed and cut into chunks
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1-3 dried red chillies (optional; use if using sweet/mild peppers above)
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • A pinch of amchu/mango powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt
  • Oil

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large karhai or wok and add the cumin seeds and dried chillies (if using).
  2. As soon as the cumin seeds split, and before the chillies darken too much, add the potatoes, haldi and salt.
  3. Saute the potatoes for 5-7 minutes or till the potatoes are half done, keeping everything moving.
  4. Add the chopped fresh peppers, mix in completely and stir-fry for another 5 minutes or so.
  5. Add the water, mix in, bring to a high simmer, cover the pan and cook till potatoes are almost done.
  6. Uncover the pan and on medium-low heat allow any remaining water to evaporate.
  7. Add the amchur (if using) and stir it in.

Notes

  1. I make this with whatever large peppers I have at hand but in my opinion it’s at its best with a mix of hot and sweet peppers. I wouldn’t go hotter than Hungarian wax peppers for the hot peppers. But it’s also very good with bell peppers and a couple of dried chillies for some background heat.
  2. I don’t usually bother peeling the potatoes and you shouldn’t either.
  3. You could always parboil the potatoes first, I suppose. If you do that then add the peppers along with the potatoes and stir-fry till done, skipping the addition of water. Either way, don’t worry if you go a bit over with the potatoes—it’ll be very tasty whether the potatoes are a bit form or a bit smashed.
  4. The amchur is entirely optional; best used if you’re using all sweet peppers to add some contrast.
  5. Once again I have failed to put the ingredients in the order of the preparation steps. I hope you can forgive me.

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