Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Three colours: Red, Yellow, Green

Back in the days when I was sleepwalking through my career in an advertising agency, my visualiser friend drew a caricature of me post my Fido Dido haircut. I looked at it and shrieked! “Ouch.. my nose looks like a capsicum!” I cried. “Didn’t you know that?” said Paddu, my only buddy in that maze. That was it. My big fat capsicum nose—my great inheritance from my dad, apart from the tropical forest of a mane, was immortalized.

Since then, capsicum and me always had a special relationship. As I grew older, may be I grew into my nose, so life was more about the capsicum and less about the nose.

Well cooked, grilled or raw, peppers (as they are more stylishly known) work well any which way, unlike most salad-based vegetables— that’s what sets them apart. A friend of mine who incidentally hates cooking taught me this delectable red and yellow pepper infused dip that makes the most ordinary slice of bread transform into a thing of exotica. The fact that she could make it made me realise that it’s not easy to screw up a capsicum, unless you are deplorable. And if you go wrong with good old aloo simla, you may as well kill yourself— the natural chemistry between the two will always come in the way of your bad cooking.

Simla mirchi (in desi lingo) is also one that ups the sexiness quotient of almost any subzi, or tandoor platter (yes, the vegetarians have a humble paneer-capsicum equivalent). While its red and yellow brethren come quick to the rescue to jazz up a salad, tomato-based pasta or just a stir-fry.

I have never understood why the red and yellow ones come gift-wrapped and cost a bomb compared to the green ones (is it possible they have more flavonoids or anti-oxidants? Must check). Personally, they work the same, although the green ones are more piquant and the red and yellow ones make it look like you truly are bringing out your best veggies for your guest.

Whatever your colour, any time is a good time for peppers. Enjoy!

Pepper dip

An ode to the lazy and fabulous.. lasts a week and all you need is anything to mop it up—bread works well.


One red pepper

One yellow pepper

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

one teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

olive oil

balsamic vinegar (or soya sauce)

salt to taste


On an open flame, grill the red and yellow peppers till the skin turns charcoal black and can be peeled off easily. Cool and set aside.

Peel the peppers, and slit them vertically, scooping out the seeds. Slice into thin strips.

Put the pepper strips into a glass or ceramic bowl, and add the roasted sesame and roasted chopped garlic. Douse liberally with olive oil, and then round off with a drop of balsamic vinegar (you can also use soya sauce) and mix well, adding salt to taste.

Use this as a dip for bread or layer it on a baguette or toast,  or lavash, adding olives, lettuce or whatever you fancy.

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