Stuffed Peppers (Bharela Marcha)
My mother’s traditional Gujarati Bharela Marcha nu Shaak translates to stuffed peppers. Spicy peppers stuffed with toasted chickpea flour, coconut, sesame seeds, and Indian spices with a touch of sweet jaggery and lemon juice, cooked to perfection. Served with Indian millet bread(Rotlo) or Roti and raw onions on the side.
Traditionally, Bharela Marcha is cooked with hot small peppers. Every household in Gujarat has its recipe for Bharela Marcha. Though the recipes and method might be slightly different, the main Ingredients are hot peppers, roasted chickpea flour, and jaggery remain the same. Jaggery and lemon juice cuts the heat of the peppers and roasted chickpea flour makes the dish earthy and filling. The combination of flavors here is magical.
Gluten-free and Vegan friendly
My recipe contains desiccated coconut and sesame seeds. The nutty flavors of coconut and sesame seeds along with chickpea flour, jaggery, and lemon complement the hot peppers so well.
Can I use milder peppers?
It is so difficult to find the same spicy peppers I grew up eating in the US. Jalapenos seem more manageable and close to the peppers we get back home in India. The heat of jalapenos is perfect and you can enjoy the meal without blowing hot dragon breath. I have thought about making this recipe with Habanero peppers but I better hold on to that only for my thought.
If jalapenos aren’t for you then try small sweet peppers or Anaheim peppers. I love the texture of Anaheim peppers with Indian millet bread or roti bread. Sweet peppers are great for an appetizer or a side dish.
My husband and kids love Anaheim and Sweet pepper ‘Bharela Marcha’. Although this isn’t a curry and usually served as a side dish, I sometimes like to create a curry-like texture to have it as a main meal.
I like to add a tablespoon and a half of extra chickpea flour while making the stuffing. Reserve tablespoons of mixtures and add about 1/4 cup water to it. Once the peppers are cooked add the mixture of stuffing and water to the peppers and cook until thick.
I have instructions on cooking these delicious peppers in the oven as well. I like to roast chickpea flour, coconut, and sesame seeds in advance. Once you have these three things ready, you can whip up and get this recipe ready in no time.
- Although I prefer stovetop cooking for Bharela Marcha. They also turn out great if you decide to bake them. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Place stuffed peppers on a large greased baking sheet. Drizzle the cooking oil generously on the peppers. Bake them at 425 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Broil for a minute.
STUFFED PEPPERS-BHARELA MARCHA
- 8 jalapenos or sweet peppers
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon desicatted coconut , unsweetened
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed
- 2 tablespoon jaggery
- 1/2 large lemon juiced
- 1/3 cup cilantro , chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste , or grated ginger-garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder or paparika
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup water
1. PREPARE THE PEPPERS
- -Wash and dry the peppers. Trim the top crown of the peppers and create a cut lengthwise halfway through. I like to keep the core but you may remove the seeds if using spicy peppers.
2. MAKE STUFFING
- -Heat skillet on low-medium heat and roast the chickpea flour for 2 to 3 minutes while stirring continuously to prevent it from burning. Set the chickpea flour aside in a medium bowl.-Roast coconut and sesame seeds in the skillet on low heat for a minute and transfer them into the bowl with chickpea flour. Add ginger-garlic paste, 1 tablespoon oil, all the spices and mix it with a hand.
3. STUFF THE PEPPERS
- -Stuff about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and half chickpea stuffing in each pepper. Do not overstuff. Leave the extra mixture aside.
- -Heat 3 tablespoon oil on medium heat in a large wok or a skillet. Add the stuffed peppers to the skillet. Cook it on medium heat until peppers are nicely charred. -Add any leftover chickpea mixture on top and cook for a minute. Bring the heat down to low-medium and add water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes without opening. Uncover and stir gently. -Cook an additional minute or two until dry. Serve it hot as an appetizer or with Indian flatbread, millet bread.