I’ve never been one to believe that “healthy” dinner hacks taste better than the original. Sorry, no one really believes that zucchini noodles taste better than real pasta! Surah a zucchini dupe for pasta can be tasty in its own right, but I will never consider it an equal substitute, nor should it have to be labeled as such. And that’s why today, I’m not going to tell you that this stuffed bell peppers recipe, which acts like the shell of the samosa filling, tastes better than real samosas.
* Spoiler * Nothing is better than a wet fried samosa chutney, especially at my favorite restaurants or wedding reception. But … that doesn’t mean these stuffed peppers aren’t as delicious as their own separate entity. While this recipe is inspired by one of my favorite fried foods, they are definitely a bit lighter and an easy weeknight dinner.
Another spoiler, we didn’t grow up making samosas at home. They were a gift reserved for pickup at our favorite Houston Indian stores, stacked in a small white box and sandwiched between greasy parchment paper (which my brother and I would inevitably break into before we got home or to be eaten at weddings soaked in hot sauce before the reception dinner). So since I didn’t even have a reference recipe for this from my mom, I resorted to trying a few different mixes and proportions of spices with my potatoes to try and emulate the smooth, spicy filling of a samosa.
It’s actually very easy to make the filling for these and I think it would make a delicious filling for the puff pastry when making real samosas. But today, we take our spicy potatoes and stuff them into roasted bell peppers. I think the combo works really well. The flavor of the potatoes pairs perfectly with the sweet charcoal of the bell peppers, and with a splash of lemon juice and a chutney chutney, it’s almost like magic.
The easy trick that I love? Heat your potatoes in the microwave. I know, the microwave is not considered really intellectual, but after listening to a recent episode of the On the Recipe Club podcast with Priya Krishna and David Chang, they both wholeheartedly agreed that the microwave has its place in the kitchen. (Have you seen his new book?) My mom always microwaved potatoes for dishes like Pani Poori and Chaat, so I’m not doing anything else. It is very easy to heat the potatoes in the microwave, let them cool while you heat the spices with the onion in the oil, mash the potatoes (leaving them thick) and then add the spices. So perfect, and no giant pots of boiling water needed.
And for bell peppers … technically, you can follow whatever roasting method you prefer on your bell peppers. I’ve seen a few different ways to do this online:
- Cut the top of the pepper, remove the seeds, fill with the filling, put the top and grill until blistering.
- Grill the peppers whole, until charred and soft. Peel the skin and remove the seeds, fill with the filling after baking.
- Cut the peppers in half, seeded, roast cut side down until cooked, fill with filling.
There really is no right or wrong way to do it. Having tried all three methods, I find that the first produces the least amount of mess after cooking, although I prefer the mild sweetness that the second and third methods result from the bell peppers. If presentation matters more to you, option one is perfect. Otherwise the other options work great. Choose your option!
This also makes for a very easy dinner to make ahead of time, as the filling will keep overnight. So you can cook your potatoes on the stove for the filling, set them aside until ready to cook, and you have an easy dinner with minimal effort. Plus, when you drizzle on some chutney, tamarind, or a mint coriander chutney, it’s so delicious. Top with additional fresh herbs, maybe a splash of yogurt, some fresh red onions, and you’ve got a flavorful dish that’s actually pretty good for you, too. Enjoy!