When mum came up to Mumbai to visit last year, I brought her to the nearby vegetable market. Being the cute auntie that she is, she bought half a kilo of onions (‘cos they look so beautiful) and 2 green peppers (‘cos they are so cheap!). That’s it.
My point of showing her the vegetable market was to let her see for herself the small variety of leafy green vegetables we have in India (oh, poor me. such hardship in India). Instead, she showed me how to make do with the fresh ingredients that can be found here and specifically, how to love the green pepper (also known as capsicum and bell pepper) that is ubiquitous in India.
Her secret is to pair thinly sliced green pepper quickly stir-fried with garlic with crispy ikan bilis (dried small saltwater fish). The savoury ikan bilis go very nicely with the sweet crunchiness of the green pepper. It’s heavenly.
This is, hands down, my favourite way of cooking and eating green peppers. And the best part is that it’s super easy to prepare, has only 3 ingredients (well, 5, if you include oil and salt) and cooks in less than 5 minutes!
This is my recreation of mum’s Green Pepper with Ikan Bilis.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 5 mins
Serves 2 as part of a meal
(a) 2 tbsp peanut oil
(b) 1/3 cup of ikan bilis, rinsed briefly and pat dry with kitchen towels
(c) 3 fat garlic cloves (around 8g), minced
(d) 2 green peppers, cored and thinly sliced*
(e) Pinch of salt, to taste
*see notes below on how to core and slice a green pepper
- Heat (a) in a shallow frying pan over moderate flame.
- When oil is hot, add (b) to the pan. Fry until golden, around 2 minutes.
- Using a slotted spatula, remove the ikan bilis from the pan and reserve the oil in the pan. Place fried ikan bilis on a piece of kitchen towel or blotting paper to soak up excess oil.
- Over high heat, add (c) to the remaining oil in the pan and fry for around 10 seconds.
- Add (d) to the pan and stir fry continuously, coating the green pepper with the oil and minced garlic, for 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt (just a pinch, because the ikan bilis will already be saltish).
- Serve hot with fried ikan bilis as topping.
Enjoy with steamed white rice or cauliflower rice (if you are on a slow carb diet like us!).
Notes on coring and slicing green pepper
If you look on the internet, there will be instructional videos and guides on how to core, seed and clean a green pepper. My method is simple.
First, use a small sharp knife, slice it around the stem and pull. Like this:
Turn the green pepper upside down and tap several times with your hand to shake out the seeds (do this over your kitchen basin!).
Slice the green pepper into half (from top to bottom) and remove remaining seeds & pith with hand. Then slice cleaned green pepper across its body to give thin slices like this: