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December 3, 2020
Bharela Marcha (Stuffed Bullet Chillies)
Chubby green bullet chillies feature in my home-style recipe for Bharela Marcha (Stuffed Bullet Chillies).
I stuff the chillies with mixed masalas, jaggery and besan (chickpea flour). Each one is like a hot little flavour bomb.
This recipe is inspired by and based upon my mother’s Gujarati Bharela Marcha.
What are Bharela Marcha?
In Gujarati Bharela = stuffed. Marcha = chillies. So is this a curry? No. Bharela Marcha (Stuffed Bullet Chillies) are more of a side dish than a main.
They’re sauce-less because we serve them alongside other dishes. A fresh pickle, of sorts.
Is this a curry?
It’s neither a curry, nor a traditional pickle. Bharela Marcha are a fresh preparation of blistered chillies and masalas. And there’s no doubt they’ll add warmth and drama to any Indian main meal.
Stuffing for Bharela Marcha (Stuffed Bullet Chillies)
Watch out, this filling is loaded with flavours. Roasted besan, fennel seeds, achaar masala, cumin seeds, jaggery and erm… tomato ketchup.
That’s right, ketchup. I’m known for my dislike of the stuff when it comes to condiments but add it to the likes of Gujarati Ravaiya, Bateta nu Shaak and Bharela Marcha and I’m in. It makes a huge difference to the overall flavour. Huge.
While you could use tomato purée, the flavour will not be as slap-you-in-the-face delicious. Pinky promise.
What’s a bullet chilli?
Fat, thick-fleshed chillies with a noticeable cone shape. These chillies are super versatile and relatively mild. I use the green ones but the more mature chillies are red in colour. Both are ideal to use.
Where to buy this variety of chillies
Buy bullet chillies in your local Asian, Turkish or other Eastern European shop.
Can I use other types of chillies?
If you can handle the heat. The best options are fat chillies like these bullet chillies, jalapeños or even Padron peppers for an extra mild version.
If you’re brave enough, you can use long, thin chillies. These tend to be very hot. They also don’t have a much room for stuffing so you may find you need more chillies to use up all the masalas.
How to serve Bharela Marcha (Stuffed Bullet Chillies)
With Gujarati rotli/phulka roti or paratha and your favourite curry. My ideal Gujarati meal pairs Bharela Marcha with Dry Moong Curry, Kadhi, Rice and Paratha.
How to stuff chillies
Slit down the curved side of the chillies lengthways, stopping when you get halfway. We don’t want to cut all the way through the chillies, just open them up enough to stuff.
Gently prise the chillies apart and stuff each one with two teaspoons of stuffing. You’ll have about a tablespoon of filling left over.
Wash and dry the chillies. Trim off the very tip of the stalks, taking care to keep the rest of the stalks intact.
Slit down the curved side of the chillies lengthways, stopping when you get halfway. We don't want to cut all the way through the chillies, just open them up enough to stuff.
To make the stuffing:
In a bowl, add chickpea flour, jaggery, ground fennel seeds, tomato purée, lemon juice, turmeric, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Now, add tomato ketchup. This addition makes a big difference to the finished dish so don't skip it. Add achaar masala and asafoetida.
Carefully pour 150ml hot oil over the top of the mixture and give everything a good stir. This will temper the spices and flours slightly and help them come together as a cohesive stuffing. Allow to cool slightly.
To stuff the chillies:
Gently prise the chillies apart and stuff each one with two teaspoons of stuffing. You'll have about a tablespoon of filling left over.
To cook the chillies:
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add cumin seeds and the reserved tablespoon of filling. Sauté for a minute and then add water. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the chillies and stir gently to coat. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, just until the chillies have softened slightly.
Garnish with chopped coriander (optional) and serve.
These chillies freeze well. Allow to cool and freeze in an airtight container. Defrost at room temperature and heat thoroughly before serving. I find that 2 1/2 minutes in the microwave does this perfectly.
If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Gujarati Ravaiya (Stuffed Aubergine Curry)
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