Friday, August 28, 2009

Banana Peppers chi Bhaaji

I saw these wonderful banana peppers at a farmer's stall. I bought them immediately. Actually, I had planned to make stuffed chilies or mirchi chi bhuji (fritters) but I was really feeling lazy so I finally made a simple peeth perun bhaaji.

This unique combination of vegetables and besan/chickpea flour is used for various vegetables like raw tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, scallions, fenugreek leaves, cilantro, spinach or even brussel sprouts and leeks - or most of the veggies from the onion family. Though the method appears similar, each vegetable offers a unique flavor. So my non-maharashtrian friends ask me what's the difference between ZuNka, Pithalay & Peeth perun bhaaji. Well, if I just look around in my family, how my grandmothers, mom, aunts prepare these three types of besan & veggie combinations, I have come up with this explanation. Pithalay has soft/semi-soft/watery consistency and it has veggies just for little flavor like garlic or Indian drumsticks (shevgyachya shenga/saragawa). It has some water content for sure. ZuNka as made in my family is the driest of these three mostly made with onions or scallions. The remaining veggies/besan combo is called peeth perun bhaaji. They can be dry or wet based on the water content of the veggies itself. But additional water is not added.

Banana Peppers chi (peeth perun)Bhaaji
Banana peppers - Besan subzi
1 bucket banana peppers, stems removed, chopped to 4 cups
1 cup besan/chickpea flour
salt to taste
1 tsp oil

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida

1. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder.
2. As they sizzle, add chopped banana peppers. Fry for 5 minutes.
3. Switch the gas to medium. Cover and let it cook for 5 - 7 minutes.
4. Take off the lid. Add salt.
5. Sprinkle besan - a spoonful at a time - while stirring with other hand.
6. As the besan gets mixed with the peppers, add 1 tsp oil.
7. Let it cook for 5 minutes.

Note -
1. Banana peppers are mild. But always ask the vendor about the spice level just to be sure. Sometimes, if these peppers are planted near spicy peppers, heat level changes. I read it in a food magazine.
2. If you want, you can remove seeds and veins of the peppers where the spice/heat is. I did not do it because they were really mild just like bell peppers.
3. When you add salt before adding besan, make sure you add the right amount. After adding besan, it's impossible to add salt again.


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