Roasted Bell Pepper Chutney – With Zesty South Indian Flavors

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Chutney

Chutneys are an essential  part of  south Indian  cuisine.  They pair  well with all the popular meals like dosa, idli , flavored  rices and are a perfect dip for a variety of  snacks.  South Indian  chutneys  are  easy to make, low in calories  and  usually  packs  a lot of  nutrition in a  small serving.  Bell pepper  (capsicum) chutney is  no different.  The  beautiful bright   red  color is  just  an  added bonus:-)

My first  taste of  bell pepper  chutney was  at a  dinner  party hosted  by a  friend.   Typical  Tamil  brahmin  cuisine never  looked  better than  at  her  table.  There  the  bright  red  bell pepper  chutney   sat alongside  coconut  rice.  Complementary  flavors , beautiful colors, friends  and wonderful  conversation…  memories  worth  cherishing, food  worth drooling over.

I loved  the  chutney,  and at  that  time  I had a good  size backyard  garden  where  I was  trying  to  grow  vegetable (ahem!!). My bell pepper  harvest  was not  worth  mentioning, but  a  few  did make their way into the chutney.   If  you grow  peppers   try to harvest  them  at different  stages as  it  ripens  and  the  colors  change. Red bell pepper is  naturally sweet  while  still retaining  the  crunch. I love  to make  jams and  jellies  with it.  Don’t  think so ?  Well,  try my Red Pepper  Jelly  and  let  me  know :-).

Bell peppers  loaded with vitamins – specifically vitamins A, B & C,  not to mention other  nutrients.  Peppers of  all colors  have  high  concentration vitamin C   which is   a  very  good immune  booster.  Add a  handful of  chopped  peppers  into  salads or  stir fries  at the  start of  cold  and  flu season  for an  added  immune  boost.

Roasted Bell Pepper Chutney

The  raw  and  stir fried peppers  are  sweet   while  fire  roasted ones  have a  hint of  smoky flavor.  This is a perfect  complement to the sweetness.  Roast it  on  the  grill, in the oven  or  just  on stove top. Cooking on  open  fire  has  a distinct appeal  to  senses –  I guess  part  of  it   has  go to do with  the  discovery and  taming  of  fire.  In our  modern  everyday cooking, with instapots  and  microwave ovens fire has  all but  disappeared.

Simply  put , here are  the  steps  to  make  this  chutney

  • Roast the peppers
  • Add Spices
  • Grind
  • Season / Temper

The peppers  are  very lean and   could  use a  little  bit  of  thickener.  South Indian  chutneys  use a  variety of  vegan  thickeners – dals (lentils),  peanuts , sesame  seeds or  coconut.  As an added  benefit  the  dals increase  the  protein  content of  the  dish.  This is  important if  you are  following a  strict  vegan , or  vegetarian  diet.  As  for me, I  am  neither so it  is  just a touch  of  lentils or  sometimes  none at all .

Making Red Bell Pepper Chutney

My go to method  to roast  pepper is on  stove top, over the open flame. Wash and dry the pepper, make sure that there are no cracks. This is important as  the peppers  have  high  water  content  and  you  would  rather  not  have  the  juice  run  all over  the  stove  as  the  pepper  roasts.   Place the pepper over the flame turning often until all the skin is charred all around. Take  the roasted pepper and place it in a bowl and cover with a lid. Let it sit covered for 10 minutes. By the end of this time the pepper would have cooked through and the skin will be cool enough to touch and ready to peel off. Rub the skin off with your fingers or use a paper towel if necessary. I do not rise the skin off , as I like to keep as much of nutrients intact and I like the bit of smokey flavors .

Here you could go crazy and add 10 , 20 ingredients.   Me, I am lazy , I like to keep it simple.  When in a  hurry I add a  dollop of  peanut butter, but  urad dal and  chana dal (split peas)  are the  traditional options.   If  you are  allergic  to  peanuts  add  any nut butter  you like or  omit  it  all together.   If using  dals  or  peanuts  dry roast in a  pan   and  add  to  the  blender and  powder.

Coming  back to the peppers, chop the  skinned  bell peppers,  remove the seeds and add to the blender bowl. The pepper juices trapped inside will ooze out as you cut into it. Do not discard this (again think nutrition !). The way I do it is to make a small hole on the pepper and drain the  juices  into the blender (for small quantities) or a bowl. Add the spices –  bit of tamarind  and  salt – and  grind to a  fairly smooth paste.  Empty the jar into a   serving  bowl.

All that  remains  to be  done  now  is  to add the  seasoning  spices.   This  is  where  the  magic of tadka .  Fry the  seasoning spices – curry leaves, dry red chilies,  mustard seeds, hing, red  chili powder  – in  hot  oil  and  pour it  all over  the  chutney.  Just  stir  right before  serving.

Roasted Bell Pepper Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Roasted Bell Pepper Chutney

Ingredients

Bell Pepperr - 2
Urad dal - 1 Tsp
Peanuts - 1 Tbsp
Tamarind - A small piece
Salt - To Taste
For Tempering (Tadka)
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 Tsp (To Taste)
Dried Red Chili - 1
Asafoetida (hing) - A pinch

Instructions

Wash and dry the red bell peppers and roast them over open fire turning often. When all the skin is charred transfer the peppers into a bowl and cover with a lid. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

Dry roast the peanuts and urad dal in a pan. Transfer to the blender bowl along with a small piece of tamarind - about 1 cm cube - and pulse a few times until powdered.

Peel the charred skin off the red peppers. Cut open, remove and discard the seeds and stems. Chop the flesh into small pieces and add to the blender bowl. Add a little salt and grind coarsely. Taste and add more salt if needed and grind to a fairly smooth mix. Transfer to the serving dish.

Heat oil in the pan. Add the mustard sees along with the red chili broken into pieces. When the mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves and red chilies until the red chilies begin to smoke. Add the asafoetida and red chili powder and turn off the heat. Pour the smoking oil with the seasoning over the pepper chutney.

Mix just before serving.

Notes

Instead of roasted peanuts and urad dal add peanut butter or almond butter while grinding You could omit the nut butters altogether, it gives a slightly less creamy version of the chutney.

https://oventales.com/roasted-bell-pepper-chutney/

I am  known to go crazy over  the   tadka.   There is s a  certain member of  the  family  who  dies  like  to have “things” in  chutney, jams  sauces, while  some of  us  prefers  the  crunch.  Waiting to mix  the tadka  just  before  serving  works  for  both.

 

Like  to  try more  south Indian  Chutneys – here  are a  few ..chutneys

Roasted Red Pepper Chutney

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