Bharwa shimla mirch is a healthy vegetarian and vegan Indian recipe that's very popular in north India. Small green bell peppers or capsicum are stuffed with a spicy potato filling and baked in the oven. These mini stuffed peppers make for a delicious meal with flatbreads like chapati or plain paratha.
Green peppers and potatoes are the starring ingredients in this aloo shimla mirch recipe as well. This is a wholesome and fresh sabzi (dry curry) that goes very well with Indian flatbreads.
Bharwa - stuffed, shimla mirch - bell peppers. So, stuffed bell peppers is what this recipe translates as. It's a lot of fun to scoop out the potato filling with homemade roti or paratha and take a bite of the softened pepper too. That's the way I like to eat them, but if you're thinking of having them like a snack, go right ahead and dig into them with a fork and knife. They taste quite good either way:)
Why you should use small green peppers for this recipe
The recipe calls for small green Indian bell peppers, usually found in Indian grocery stores. These guys are a little different from the North American variety. They are smaller and taste slightly more 'raw' than their large American cousins.
And oh, I think it's worth emphasizing that Indian stuffed peppers are traditionally made with green bell peppers because that was the only color available in India, back when. Of course, you can go ahead and make this stuffed shimla mirch recipe with different colored peppers, but if you ask me, I would tell you to stick with the green ones. Not only because this is what tradition dictates, but because the taste of orange, yellow, or red peppers is going to be slightly different. The other colors are all mildly sweet and don't have the zing of the green peppers. So, stick with green if you can:)
The potato filling
Russet potatoes are boiled, mashed and pan-fried with chopped onions, a little garlic, and some common Indian spices. The peppers (with the tops off) are then filled with this spicy potato filling.
Variations: You can add some crumbled paneer or Indian cottage cheese to the potato filling. And if you're feeling more adventurous, you can also add some shredded cheddar or mozzarella! This will, of course, make it a vegetarian rather than a vegan recipe , but if you're not strictly vegan and love cheese with anything, it's an idea you might want to try out.
Note: exact amounts are mentioned in the recipe card further down in the post.
- Small green bell peppers
- Russet potatoes
- Onions and garlic
- Spices - coriander, cumin, red chill, garam masala, and amchur/mango powder (optional)
- Cooking oil and salt
How to make bharwa shimla mirch
Prep the veggies
- Cut off the tops of the peppers and remove the seeds to make a hollow for the stuffing. Reserve the tops as you will need these to cover the peppers while baking.
- Chop the onion and garlic.
Make the spice mix
- Take the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frypan and dry roast on medium heat until fragrant (no need to add oil). When the spices cool down, grind them coarsely using a spice grinder (affiliate link) or mortar and pestle. You will add this spice mix to the potatoes.
Make the potato filling
- Boil and mash the potatoes.
- Heat some cooking oil in a frypan and the chopped onions and garlic. Fry until the onions just start caramelizing. Then add the spice mix you prepared earlier (coriander and cumin). Add more spices (red chilli, mango powder, garam masala) and salt and fry for a couple of seconds only, taking care that they do not burn.
- Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring the potatoes every now and then to coat them with the spices.
Stuff the bell peppers and bake in a hot oven
- Fill each bell pepper to the brim with the cooked potato mash and place the tops back. Brush the tops and sides of the peppers with cooking oil and arrange in a baking tray. Keep in a pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Turn the oven setting to 'broil' and let the peppers acquire a slight char. Remove the baking tray from the oven after 2 minutes and serve solo or with the Indian bread of your choice. This is an optional step but it makes the peppers taste better somehow.
Alternative to baking
- You can also fry the stuffed peppers on the stovetop if you don't want to bake them. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frypan and arrange the peppers on their sides. Fry them for 2-3 minutes on low heat, then turn slightly so that another side gets cooked. Keep doing this till the peppers are cooked from all the sides. You can cover the pan while the peppers are cooking and uncover only to flip them. This will produce some steam and the peppers will soften more quickly. The whole process should take about 20 minutes.
- I prefer baking the peppers to frying them. The method described above is a bit cumbersome as you can see, so it's best to bring your oven into use for this recipe if you have one.
More vegan Indian dishes
- Chana Pulao - A dead simple, one-pot chickpea pulao that's going to save you lots of time in the kitchen.
- Baingan Bharta - Fire-roasted eggplant curry with a distinct smoky flavor.
- Bombay Potatoes - Baby potatoes are steamed in the instant pot or stovetop, tossed in a few spices and dressed with lemon juice, green chillies and cilantro.
- Lauki Chana Dal - Bottle gourd cooked with split chickpea lentils in a very tasty, thick tomato gravy.
- Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry with Spinach - Put it together in a bowl with brown rice and some coriander chutney and you've made yourself a complete meal.
Bharwa Shimla Mirch (Stuffed Green Bell Peppers)
- Small frypan
- Spice grinder or coffee grinder
- 6 small green bell peppers
- 1 medium red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1.5 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 0.5 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 5 small russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 0.5 teaspoon amchur or mango powder optional
- 0.25 teaspoon garam masala powder
- salt to taste
Prep the ingredients
- Cut off the tops of the green peppers and scoop out the seeds to make a hollow in each. Reserve the tops.
- Chop the onion and garlic.
- Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frypan and roast over medium heat until the spices are fragrant and change color slightly. When cool, grind coarsely in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and keep aside.
- Boil the potatoes until soft. Peel and mash them roughly.
Make the potato filling
- Heat the cooking oil in a frypan or skillet and add the chopped onions and garlic. Fry on medium heat until the onions just start browning.
- Add the coriander and cumin mix, followed by the red chilli powder, amchur, garam masala, and salt. Fry for a couple of seconds only making sure the spices don't burn.
- Add the potatoes and mix well with the spices. Fry for 4-5 minutes and remove from the hob. Let the potato mixture cool down.
Stuff and bake the peppers
- Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit.
- Fill each pepper with the potatoes and replace the tops. Arrange the peppers on a baking tray and brush the tops and sides with oil.
- Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes.
- Optional: if you want the tops of the peppers to brown, press 'broil' (high) and allow the peppers to acquire a slight char. Remove from the oven after two minutes.
- The bell peppers are ready to be served with some bread of your choice.
- The green, small peppers found in Indian groceries are ideal for this recipe. However, if this is not an option, go for the smallest green peppers you can find, not the large ones.
- If you have an instant pot, you can can use it to prep the potatoes. I set it to 8 minutes pressure cooking on high with quick pressure release. It's easier than boiling the potatoes on the stovetop.
- Amchur (mango powder) and garam masala are available easily in any Indian grocery.
- If you are not strictly vegan, add some crumbled paneer or even shredded cheddar or mozzarella to the potato mix once it cools down. This is totally optional, of course.