Stuffed peppers in a peanut-tamarind sauce

Stuffed peppers in a peanut-tamarind sauce

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

This is based on a vegetarian national treasure, mirch salan, a Hyderabadi dish of fat, large green chillies in a peanut and tamarind sauce. The combination is fabulous. But I recently came across these lovely mixed baby sweet peppers at my local supermarket and decided they would be great in the dish. If you like a little more heat, find large, fat, jalapeño-type chillies and follow the recipe below, except add them to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes at the end. It is definitely a special occasion dish, but is fun to make and well worth it. The sauce also goes well with mushrooms, aubergines, okra and many other vegetables. I like to have some naan on the side to mop up all those lovely flavours.


Quantity Ingredient
70g raw peanuts, skins rubbed off if there are any, plus more to serve (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 rounded tablespoon desiccated coconut, plus more to serve (optional)
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
20g root ginger, (peeled weight)
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 rounded tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
salt, to taste
1/2-3/4 teaspoon tamarind paste, dissolved in 3 tablespoons boiling water, or to taste
12 baby mixed peppers
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
small fistful coriander leaves, chopped, to serve (optional)

For the stuffing

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2/3 teaspoon turmeric
450g potatoes, boiled or microwaved, peeled and coarsely mashed
1 rounded teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2-2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Dry-roast the peanuts in a small frying pan for a minute and pour into a spice grinder. Add the sesame and cumin seeds to the pan and dry-roast gently until the sesame is golden. Pour into the spice grinder with the coconut and grind to a powder; don’t worry about any chunks.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a pan and add the onions; sauté until golden. Meanwhile, with a stick blender, blend the ginger and garlic with a little water until smooth. Separately, blend the tomatoes until smooth. Add the ginger and garlic to the onions and sauté until the garlic colours. Add the tomatoes, ground spices and salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 10–15 minutes, until the masala releases oil back into the pan. Brown this paste, over a highish heat, for three to four minutes, then stir in the ground nut mixture. Add 400 ml of water, return to the boil and simmer for eight minutes. Add most of the tamarind, then adjust the seasoning and tamarind. It should be a slightly chunky, creamy curry, neither watery nor too thick.
  3. For the stuffing, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, add the turmeric and, after a beat, the potato, cumin and salt to taste; cook for two minutes. Add the lemon juice, mix, adjust the seasoning and place in a bowl to cool. Give it a good mash if it is lumpy. Wipe the pan. Slit the peppers lengthways so you can open them, then stuff them. Do not overstuff.
  4. Cook the peppers in two batches: in 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil for each batch, add half the mustard seeds and reduce the heat. Once the popping dies down, add half the curry leaves and peppers. Stir for 20 seconds and season lightly. Then add a splash of hot water, cover and steam for 10 minutes or until the peppers are soft; they will have lightly charred in places. Shake gently every so often. Keep warm while you repeat with the next batch.
  5. Place the peppers on warmed plates. Spoon the sauce over and sprinkle with coconut, or peanuts and chopped coriander. Serve hot.
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