Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


"Spice flavour exploding on a wave of fragrant steam ..."

How to stuff a capsicum.

Slice a couple of onions and fry them in ghee or oil in a heavy pan (it must have a tight-fitting lid) until translucent.

Grind a quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Or just shake them out of your spice containers. It's all the same, really. Some people can taste the difference, but would you really want them to go on about it at your dinner party after a hard day?

When onion is fragrant, transparent and begging you to sample it, add spices and stir for a minute or two.

Now tip in a cup each of basmati rice and rinsed red lentils, and carefully add three and a half cups of boiling water.

Finally, add two teaspoons of salt. Stir. Place the lid on the pan. Turn down heat very low.

Lift the pan twenty minutes later. Done. The spice flavour will explode on a wave of fragrant steam, and the rice will have ballooned.

In the intervening twenty minutes, cut the tops off three red capsicums, and remove seeds and pith.

When rice and lentil mixture is done, stuff the capsicums with it. (The above quantities will yield more than enough mixture.)

Replace the capsicum tops and place them in a baking dish, which should be of a size that roughly holds their tops in place.

Add a good dash of chilli powder to a jar of tomato puree and warm it through, adding a dash of water. Now pour this into the baking dish so that it almost covers the capsicums. Think of hippos in a pond. You can just see their backs.

Bake until capsicums soften, about an hour. Adjust fluid if your oven is particularly hot.

Serve with yogurt; a salad of tomato, mint, basil, and spring onion; some sweet lime pickle; and some warm fenugreek naan.

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