Lofty mountains, picturesque valleys, swirling mists, chilly breezes, and tummies grumbling for food - this is how I remember one nostalgic afternoon in Kodaikanal, one of the popular hillstations in Southern India. The resort had a restaurant perched on a hilltop with glass all around where you could see the valley view all around you. The food was piping hot - simple roti and Alu Subji, but with a slightly different recipe than the usual thing we ate at home. The aroma of that dish has stayed with me along with happy memories of a great vacation. As young as I was that time, I did not waste any time recreating the simple comforting dish the moment I got home.
Fast forwarding to the present day, Alu Shimla Mirch has always been a very popular dish in our home, and the goto dish when any last minute guests turned up. The flavour of the green pepper or capsicum elevates the everyday potato to a different level, and a strong dose of cumin with a secret spice further makes this taste exotic.
This vegetable dish is ready in a jiffy, since in a typical Indian home, the potatoes are boiled in a pressure cooker along with the usual rice and daal. The green peppers are coarsel chopped meanwhile and then they are stir fried together with the spices. In the wintertime, we sometimes get small green peppers, and my mother makes a further variation where she stuffs the boiled mashed potatoes into the peppers and then sautees them in a pan. This changes the presentation but the taste is the same as the following recipe.
4-5 large potatoes
3 green peppers
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
3-4 green cardamom pods(elaichi)
hing and turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp oil
salt to taste
1) Scrub and clean the potatoes and boil them either in a pressure cooker or in a pot of boiling water. You can also microwave them if in a hurry, but the texture is slightly different from boiled potatoes. You can use 4-5 Idaho potatoes or 10-12 small new potatoes. Peel and chop the potatoes.
Note - the ratio of potatoes versus peppers here is more to your liking and also on how much the peppers cost :). There will not be much of a difference in flavour if you add 2 versus three or four peppers, since this is a strong flavoured vegetable. More peppers of course mean more vitamin C and more nutrition.
2) Destem the peppers and remove all white parts. Cut into largish pieces, such that the pieces will be intact even after getting cooked.
3) Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and cardamom pods. As they splutter, add hing and turmeric powder. Immediately add the chopped peppers. Sautee for some time until the peppers are cooked.
4) Add the chopped potatoes, the cayenne pepper, salt and a pinch of sugar. Stir everything together and cover. Let it simmer for five minutes.
5) Your Alu Shimla Mirch is ready to be devoured.
This is a simple and easy family favourite that is liked by young and old alike. I hope you try this simple recipe and let me know what you think.