Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stuffed green peppers with nutty rice

While vegetarian food is not hard to find in most pubs, hotels etc, the choice is woefully limited – usually pasta of some kind, vegetarian chili, bean burger, sometimes a vegetable curry or Mediterranean-veg lasagna chock full of gross aubergines/eggplant and zucchini (because, you know, they’re Mediterranean vegetables and apparently no other veggies are known to ever be used in Mediterranean cuisine). Some places offer two vegetarian options, if you’re lucky. But usually it’s just one of the above, and vegetarians have to like it or lump it.

I should be glad that there’s at least SOMETHING non-meaty and non-fishy to eat in Western restaurants, and I suppose I am... but I still can’t help wishing that their chefs would show just a little imagination for vegetarians. Which is why I like a little pub in Wem (Pete’s hometown), called the Old Post Office (Pete’s home-away-from), which is owned and run by Pete’s business partner Guy, and a couple of his friends. The pub is called the Old Post Office because before it was converted to a pub, it used to be the old post office premises before they moved lock stock and barrel to the new post office premises – well, why did you think the pub’s name is what it is?

Anyway, I like the pub for all sorts of reasons – one, the younger crowd (the noisy, binge drinking, annoying kind) stay away because it doesn’t offer them much in the way of a “hep” ambience. Two, the pub plays good music on an excellent sound system (which Pete set up). Three, the d├ęcor is homely (I especially love the squashy-soft sofas from whose hug it’s difficult to get out) but with an exotic touch in the way of beautiful sculptures and paintings and wall-hangings which Guy brought back from his trips to Africa. The effect is casual and comfortable.

And now for the fourth and most important reason - the food. The pub offers a carvery every Sunday, with at least two different choices of meat, which Pete loves. The Sunday carvery has had very good reviews in the local newspapers, because the servings and accompaniments are generous – and all freshly cooked that day, nothing from frozen. I would be happy to eat just the accompaniments that are available – roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, cabbage, peas, cauliflower or broccoli cheese, roast parsnips, carrots, leeks, stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings - a veritable feast!

But I get a special entree just for me as the only vegetarian who goes there for Sunday lunch. The two lady chefs make it a point to try out a new recipe  for me, even though – or perhaps especially because – vegetarian food is not their comfort zone. It’s not even as if I’m a guinea pig… apparently they try out their new recipes during the week on the regulars (the pub makes it a point to provide sandwiches and other finger food on the house, in the evening), asking them for feedback. And then, on a Sunday, the recipe makes its formal debut – just for me (or any other vegetarian, assuming any comes along. It hasn’t happened yet, they say.)

Since I know that there won’t be any aubergine in anything (the staff all know of my loathing for this gross slimy-when-cooked vegetable), I’m always delighted to try whatever they've made – and so far, every single thing has been a hit. It's really nice of them to take the trouble to make anything, just for one person, especially when they've got their hands full catering for all the regular guests.

One time it was peppers stuffed with a really nice rice mixture, and since I had peppers at home last Sunday (when Pete and Bex were having a Sunday lunch at home), I decided to make my own main course and share the accompaniments (called “trimmings”) with my husband and stepdaughter for our family meal. Pete served everything in a giant Yorkshire pudding - yummy!
Recipe for: Stuffed green peppers with nutty rice
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Ingredients:

2 green peppers (capsicum/bell pepper)
1/4 cup paneer, diced into 1/2 cm cubes
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1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 green chilli, sliced into thin rings
4 tbsp shredded methi leaves (optional)
1/2 cup shredded coriander leaves
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1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp mixed nuts (peanuts, cashewnuts, pecans), chopped
2 tsp raisins or sultanas
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Slice off the tops of the peppers and carefully remove the seeds and pith. Make sure the peppers can remain upright; even up the bottoms if required so that they sit flat. Reserve the tops, don't throw them away.
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2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the chillies, paneer and chopped nuts. Stir fry till the nuts and the paneer are pale golden brown.
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3. Add the coriander and methi leaves and fry till they wilt.
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4. Add the sultanas/raisins.
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5. Now mix in the rice, garam masala, black pepper powder and salt to taste. Heat this stuffing thoroughly, then turn the heat off and let it cool.
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6. Spoon the filling into the prepared peppers, pressing down with the back of the spoon to get as much of the stuffing in as possible,
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then put the tops of the peppers back on.
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7. Place the stuffed peppers on a baking tray and spray them with Pam on the outside, or brush them with a little oil. Bake in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes or so, or till the peppers are a soft and wrinkled. Don't overcook them.
8. Serve the peppers hot as a main course with a selection of vegetables, and vegetarian gravy.
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RECIPE: STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS WITH NUTTY RICE

Ingredients:

2 green peppers (capsicum/bell pepper)
1/4 cup paneer, diced into 1/2 cm cubes
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 green chilli, sliced into thin rings
4 tbsp shredded methi leaves (optional)
1/2 cup shredded coriander leaves
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp mixed nuts (peanuts, cashewnuts, pecans), chopped
2 tsp raisins or sultanas
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Slice off the tops of the peppers and carefully remove the seeds and pith. Make sure the peppers can remain upright; even up the bottoms if required so that they sit flat. Reserve the tops, don't throw them away.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the chillies, paneer and chopped nuts. Stir fry till the nuts and the paneer are pale golden brown.
3. Add the coriander and methi leaves and fry till they wilt.
4. Add the sultanas/raisins.
5. Now mix in the rice, garam masala, black pepper powder and salt to taste. Heat this stuffing thoroughly, then turn the heat off and let it cool.
6. Spoon the filling into the prepared peppers, pressing down with the back of the spoon to get as much of the stuffing in as possible, then put the tops of the peppers back on.
7. Place the stuffed peppers on a baking tray and spray them with Pam on the outside, or brush them with a little oil. Bake in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes or so, or till the peppers are a soft and wrinkled. Don't overcook them.
8. Serve the peppers hot as a main course with a selection of vegetables, and vegetarian gravy.

2 comments:

Cefzil said...

I Like this recipe very much.I want some more paneer recipe.

Thanks
________
Roger

Linda said...

Hi Shammi -- I love the way you always show your recipes step-by-step after those great descriptions... leaves me with mouth watering by the time I get to the final product!