I first made this besan okra sabji back in 2008 as a newly married, novice cook. I don’t remember what exactly happened but I added some besan to okra as it was cooking and it resulted in a really delicious side dish that we loved. I remember discussing with TH how it tastes similar to our beloved paruppu usili.
Coming to capsicum (or bell pepper), it’s an interesting vegetable to cook sabji with. The pepper has a beautiful flavour and holds its shape as it cooks which works really well in this particular recipe where we I added equal amounts of onions and then the besan. I also love adding capsicum to sambar, just FYI. Try it if you haven’t already!
I paired this capsicum zunka with steamed white rice, radish sambar, and carrot beans thoran for a lovely Indian vegetarian lunch. You can use any capsicum you have in hand or mix up some colours too. The quantity of besan can also be adjusted to get more of the spongy spiced besan in the dish which is really delicious. Do note that I am not claiming this to be the authentic Maharashtrian Zunka recipe, it’s just the way I make it to our taste and preference.
CAPSICUM BESAN SABJI (ZUNKA) RECIPE
Preparation time: 8 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 cups of capsicum, any colour or a mix, cut into small cubes
1 cup of onions, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp of oil
1/2 tsp of black mustard seeds
1 tsp of split urad dal, optional
A few curry leaves
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1/4 tsp of cumin powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1/4 tsp of amchoor (dry mango) powder, optional, to add sourness
3 tbsp of besan or chickpea flour
1/4 tsp of hing or asafoetida powder
- Heat oil and add the mustard seeds
- When they pop, add the urad dal, if using
- When the urad dal turns golden brown, add the onions and curry leaves
- Saute until the onions turn soft and transparent. No need to brown them or fry them too much
- Now add the chopped capsicum and cook for 3-4 mins until it turns a bit soft and gets semi-cooked
- Top up with the masala powders – chilli, coriander, cumin, turmeric, amchoor (if using), hing – and some salt
- Mix well and fry on low heat for a minute or two
- Now add the besan and mix again
- You will find the mixture to be a bit dry so keeping flame low, add water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture turns moist. Don’t add too much water, it will make the sabji too watery
- Keep stirring frequently and you will find the besan coming together with the other vegetables and cooking through
- Taste to make sure no more salt is required
- Remove from heat and serve warm
Step by Step Pictures to Prepare Capsicum Besan Sabji
Prepare the capsicum and onions by chopping them into small even-sized cubes. This will ensure even cooking of the sabji
Heat oil and add black mustard seeds. When they start popping, add urad dal (if using)
When the dal turns golden brown, add the onions and curry leaves
Saute until the onions turn pink and a bit transparent. There’s no need to brown or fry the onions too much although you can definitely do that if you wish. I went for an overall soft feel to the sabji and didn’t overcook or fry anything too much.
Now add the capsicum, mix well, and cook on medium flame for 3-4 mins until it’s half cooked.
Top up with salt and spice powders – chilli, coriander, cumin, hing, turmeric, and amchoor (if using). Amchoor is dried and powdered raw mango which lends a lovely sour flavour to any sabji. I love adding a pinch of amchoor to most sabjis but you can definitely skip it or add lime juice instead.
Give everything a good mix and let the spice powders cook for a minute or so until roasted and fragrant.
Then sprinkle the besan over this and mix again.
Add water a tablespoon at a time or just enough to moisten the besan and encourage it to mingle with the rest of the ingredients. Do not add too much water, it will make the sabji too mushy.
Cook for 4-5 minutes more or until the besan and capsicum are cooked. Add more salt if needed.
Capsicum besan sabji is done! I loved it with rice and sambar but you can also serve this capsicum zunka with rotis and dal. Either ways, a super quick and simple side dish for you to try soon. Let me know if you do try it and share notes in the comments below.
For Capsicum Besan sabji recipe in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, etc, please use the Google translate button in the sidebar.