Stuffed with the goodness of health and taste

Vegetarian delights

Raise the nutrition value of vegetables by stuffing them with cereals and meat.

Who does not love colourful, crunchy, tasty and nutritious veggies? Bell peppers in all their hues, brinjals, ladies finger, pointed gourds and bitter gourds –- are all a great source of Vitamin C, antioxidant lycopene and make for great curries. But what if you were not to make a regular curry, but de-seed them and stuff with wholesome rice, millets, onion, garam masala and even meats? Stuffed vegetables are a mouth-watering vegetarian delicacy if prepared with the right fillings with the right amount of spices and herbs.

In India, we are all very familiar with the concept of bharwa mirchi. Hollowed-out capsicums are stuffed with cooked meat, potatoes, onions, seasoned with chili, turmeric, coriander, cilantro, salt and lemon juice. The peppers are then either browned in a tava (frying pan) or baked in an oven until soft. Mirchi bhaji or pakora is a staple in Maharashtra where the big green chilli pepper is stuffed with a roasted, spiced flour mix, sometimes dipped in a flour batter and then fried. In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, some of the smaller but more potent chillies are also stuffed and fried, especially as a side
dish to rice.

In Greece, where this dish is known as Yemista, filling of rice and herbs is used. In Tunisia, peppers are stuffed with spiced rice and ground beef or ground lamb. In Mexico, Chile relleno, literally ‘stuffed pepper’, consists of a roasted green Pasilla or poblano pepper stuffed with cheese (queso fresco mostly), minced meat, covered with egg batter and fried. It is often served covered with a sauce, although the type of sauce varies widely. It is sometimes also served in a taco with rice, salsa and other toppings.

In Italy, a dish of bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and brinjals – all stuffed with anchovies (tiny fishes available canned and salted) is very popular. The anchovies are lightly fried in olive oil with garlic, then mixed with cooked millet, oregano, basil, olives and left-over veggies. This mixture is then stuffed into the vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and baked.
In Gujarat, on the other hand, you will find stuffed vegetables with crunchy peanuts and coconut shreds.

Potatoes, brinjals and small onions are stuffed with chopped coriander, grated coconut, coriander-cumin seed powder, chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, crushed roasted peanuts, sugar and salt to taste. They are then fried in oil with asafoetida. A variety of other vegetables like ladies finger, pointed gourd, apple gourd and bitter gourd are stuffed with the same spices (with the addition and deletion of a few) to make bharwa bhindi, bharwa parwal, bharwa tinde and bharwa karele respectively.

Another very popular stuffed vegetable preparation in India is bharwa tamatar (stuffed tomatoes). Paneer, that is, cottage cheese, is used in its filling. Mashed potatoes, grated paneer, salt, red chilli, garam masala, green coriander, cashew and raisins are mixed together. These are then fried along with green chilli, ginger and tomato pulp. De-capped tomatoes are stuffed with this mixture. The tomatoes are coated with oil and then browned in a wok, oven or microwave. They taste equally good prepared in any of these.

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