Ilona's spicy pepper dish


It's such a pity that people don't write any more.  Real writing, beautiful handwriting, on thick paper.  My great grandmother and grandmother's hand written recipe books mean so much more and convey so much more emotion than if they'd been typed into a word document.  Fading script that gets shakier as the books end, smudges, doodled patterns... the books talk to me in a way the typed word never could.  And the letters! Lovingly written aerogrammes on wafer thin paper from India, gossipy and full of news .... I would do anything to go to the letterbox and find one.

Luckily I'm from a family of hoarders, and we still have boxes of paper everywhere. Mum just found this recipe in an old letter written to her by her friend Ilona ... I decided to make it on a whim and oh my goodness!  It's delicious!  Cook it now!  You will need: 

3 peppers (capsicums): red, yellow and green, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

a stalk of curry leaves

2 teaspoons of besan (chickpea) flour

1 teaspoon of red chilli powder

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar


squeeze of lemon juice

Make a paste of the besan, chilli, turmeric, salt and sugar by mixing it in a small bowl with a little (1-2 tablespoons of oil) and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, waiting until they pop.  Add the finely sliced peppers and stir fry quickly for a minute or two on high heat.

Add the besan paste, stir it in, and then turn down the heat for another minute or so to finish cooking while stirring to make sure it has blended in.  

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.