Fig. 1. Stuffed Bell Peppers
The interesting thing about this recipe is that Aparna has baked the dish and ever-so-casually combined tofu in the conventional Indian stuffing. :) Now I have never made anything with tofu (barely ever eaten it either). So tofu would be somewhat a leap of faith for me. I did, however, keep her recipe in mind for using with Paneer.
Have been on the lookout for paneer based recipes lately. In the past I have always eaten the typical Besan Stuffed Peppers, usually at parties. Aparna's idea of adding protein to the stuffing lingered in my mind. And when I saw a batch of fresh and vibrant bell peppers in the store, the image of Aparna's dish immediately flashed before my eyes. Here was a chance to make a fancy side-dish!
Most of this recipe is from Aparna's blog, with some modifications to suit my needs:
3 capsicums or bell peppers
2 medium onions
1/4 cup besan (gram flour or chickpea flour)
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seed) powder
1 teaspoon dhania (coriander seed) powder
1/4 teaspoon haldi (turmeric)
1/2 packet frozen readymade paneer. Can use home-made. Recipe for paneer from my previous post is here. (Aparna used tofu).
1/2 cup of chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
Oil ~ 2 tablespoons (to saute as well as to grease the baking tray).
Salt to taste
A bit of time: Remember this needs to be baked. So apart from making the stuffing (~15 minutes) please allocate 40-50 minutes for just baking.
I - Make stuffing:
1) Heat oil. Saute chopped onions.
2) Add besan and roast until besan becomes fragrant.
3) Add chopped tomatoes.
4) When sufficiently cooked, add ginger-garlic pastes, jeera and dhania powders, chilli powder, haldi and salt. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
5) Now crumble the paneer (just roughly by hand) on top of this mixture. Add salt for paneer. Mix and saute well.
6) Add finely chopped coriander leaves and mix. Now the stuffing is ready.
II - Stuff the Peppers:
1) Line a baking tray with foil. And grease the foil with a tiny bit of oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Wash and cut each pepper into 2 halves. De-seed the halves. Stuff each half with the above stuffing.
3) Place the stuffed peppers with stuffing side up in the baking tray. And bake for 40-50 minutes, at 350 degrees F (rough estimate, please adjust for your oven) till the peppers are cooked. It took me about 50 minutes, because I kept opening the oven to check and that would make the temperature inside go down! Impatience!
Now for my dirty little secret.... One of the foodies I am lately cooking for, is on a low-carb, low-sugar, and many-things-restricted diet. So I skipped the besan! (Golly-jeepers-omygosh-blasphemous!!) Actually that is why we made this at home and didn't get it at a restaurant!! Without the besan there are apparently no carbs in the rest of the ingredients! It seems the paneer is only good protein, no carbs, (which explains the desperate search for paneer recipes on my part) and the veggies have no carbs either. Because of the baking, the paneer turned out just perfectly browned and crisp. So despite having omitted the besan which is usually critical for this dish, we have crusty paneer stuffing!!! :)
So really, many thanks to Aparna, for thinking about adding tofu (in my case, paneer) in this dish and for baking it. Keep your innovative modifications coming! I truly appreciate them! :)
I'll be sure to add besan next time, that is why I have included it in the recipe above. Do not skip it, if that is feasible for you. The crunch from besan remains in the entire stuffing. In my case, the paneer top of the stuffing was crisp enough, but not crisp really deep inside. But that was good enough for us.. for now. :)
Since this is a sort of modification of a restaurant style recipe I am sending this to Blog-Bites #2 which calls for "I never made this at home" recipes from other bloggers. This event is hosted by Nupur of One Hot Stove.
Cheers and 'apy cooking!