Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Shimla Mirch Bharvi (Stuffed Green Bell Pepper)


You can find stuffed green bell peppers in many parts of the world: in Greece and other Mediterranean countries often farci – stuffed with rice, herbs and raisins – or with minced meat. In many parts of India, Shimla mirch is often stuffed with potatoes, which is a typical Punjabi dish. But to make it taste good, the potatoes should not be mashed and should have some other ingredients too.

Because Shimla mirch bharvi has several steps, in the old days, the women folk in the extended family would help in making it and in the kitchen many family stories would be shared. We used to tie the top lid of the bell peppers with a few twists of cotton string so that the stuffing would stay inside when they were cooked inside a kadai (wok).

These days there are many short cuts in making dishes, but the way of preparing the food can be satisfying when you can add some special touches and then see the difference it makes in the taste. The secret of this dish is to make sure that the potatoes are not mushy but maintain some soft crunchiness. The bell peppers, on the other hand, should be soft and easy to bite through with the skin crumpled and nicely brown.

The other main ingredient that adds flavor for the Punjabi style dish is usually peas – fresh, shelled ones are the best because they come out hard and crunchy. For finer tastebuds, some people add paneer (homemade cheese) to the stuffing.


•  4 medium Shimla mirch (green bell peppers)

•  4 medium aaloo (potatoes)

•  50gm mutter (peas) – frozen or fresh

•  1 large piyaaz (onion) –   peeled and sliced

•  3 tbsp tael (olive oil or vegetable oil)

•  ½ tsp haldi (turmeric powder)

• Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), lasan (gar       lic powder), garam masala, amchoor (mango powder)


1. Wash the potatoes, peel them and chop them into small pieces.

2. Put a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and lightly brown the potatoes. Throw in the turmeric, salt and pepper and peas and cover for five minutes.

3. Remove the cover and with a wooden spatula, slightly smash the potatoes and peas. Add more spices if desired. Remove from the stove and set aside to cool down.

4. Wash the bell peppers and cut off the top including the stalk and keep aside. Clean out the inside seeds and bulb.

5. Fill the hollow peppers with the potatoes and peas mixture, cover with the cut-off top and keep them aside.

6.   Pour two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Place the stuffed bell peppers in and when one side turns light brown, gently turn to the other side till the peppers are browned all over. Do not cover the pan and let it cook for a few minutes.

7. Serve hot with roti or rice. Enjoy!

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.