‘Stuffed Green Pepper‘ is a popular dish made of green bell peppers, rice, pine nuts, and currants. In Turkish cuisine, we called stuffed dishes either “dolma” or “sarma”. Stuffed Green Pepper is a dish that fits in the “dolma” category. It is the easiest one in the stuffed dishes family because you just need to prepare the filling ingredients. For example, preparing a Stuffed Grape Leaves dish takes double the time to prepare a Stuffed Green Pepper dish.
The key to making the best Stuffed Green Pepper dish is to choose the thinnest skin green peppers. As you know green peppers have a more intense flavor than other bell peppers. To reduce that intense flavor at the stuffed dish, the thickness of the green pepper skin should be thin; otherwise, you get more green pepper flavor than the ingredient flavor. You can consider this stuffed dish either side dish or meze. There is no special separation between considering the stuffed dishes as meze or side dish, however, I consider this dish as “meze”.
The Story of Stuffed Green Pepper
There is a very interesting story about how and when Green Pepper has got into Ottoman cuisine. Green Pepper is native to South American countries such as Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Before Green Pepper came to Ottoman cuisine, the Ottoman palace kitchen was only stuffing Grape Leaves and Cabbage Leaves. Green Pepper first got into Ottoman cuisine by Sefarad Jewish merchants.
Spanish Jewish people (Sefarad Jews) have started to migrate to the Ottoman Empire to escape from the Spanish inquisition in 1478. After living in the Ottoman Empire for centuries, Sefarad Jews have migrated from Ottoman Empire to South American countries in the 1800s. After they have settled in South America, some of the Seferad Jews have started to make import and export trade with the Ottoman Empire and Green Pepper first came to the Ottoman Empire in this way.
Today, I am thankful to the Sefarad Jewish merchants for bringing this delicious Green pepper from South America to our soils. Here is the recipe for this delicious Stuffed Green Pepper.
Stuffed Green Pepper
- 10 small green peppers choose thin skin ones
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup short grain rice
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tomato
- 3 onion chopped
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 3 tbsp dried currants
- 3 tbsp dried mint
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cut off the tops of green peppers first and then discard seeds and membranes. Wash the peppers in cold water and rinse them well. Put them into the bowl for stuffing.
Wash the rice under cold water to remove rice surface starch.
Pour extra virgin olive oil to the saucepan. Put onions and pine nuts and saute them until pine nuts color turn to brown. Then add the rice and stir them about 5 minutes.
Add the dried currants, dried mint, salt, black pepper, sugar, allspice, cinnamon and 1 cup of lukewarm water to the saucepan. Then stir them about 5 minutes at medium heat.
Once you sure all water in the saucepan absorbed by the fill mixture, remove the fill mixture into a bowl for stuffing the green peppers
Making the dish
Use dessert spoon to fill each pepper with the fill mixture until it reaches the top. Don’t overfill the peppers because the rice will need little space to expand while it cooks.
After you finish filling peppers, cover the opening of each pepper with a square of tomato piece.
Line up the stuffed green peppers to the saucepan and add the remaining 1 cup of water in to the saucepan. Then add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the water (to give shiny look) and close the lid.
Bring the saucepan to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat level to low. Let the peppers cook gently about 40-45 minutes (until the water absorbed by the dish).
After the dish cooked, put them to a serving plate and let them cool. And then serve cold.