YEMISTA, ASIAN - STYLE
WHAT IS SHIMLA MIRCH? GREEN PEPPER: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF SWEET PEPPERS: YEMISTA, ASIAN- STYLE RECIPE
There seems to be some confusion about these types of peppers which should be cleared up before we start. In British English we call these peppers by their colour, so we have green peppers, red peppers, yellow and orange ones as well as brown, purple and white peppers. In American English they are Bell peppers because of their shape, or sweet peppers, to distinguish between these and chilli peppers. These peppers are in the Solanaceae family so are related to baingan (aubergines or eggplants), potatoes, nipple fruit, nightshade and tomatoes.
Not all red peppers start off green some begin by being white, and not all green peppers will turn red, as they are harvested when ripe and dark green and glossy. However, most red peppers are ripe green ones. Yellow peppers start off green but are supposed to be yellow; they are sweeter and juicier and taste more like fruit than all other peppers. Equally orange peppers are meant to be orange and are sweet and mild. Purple peppers are green inside, and turn green when cooked, so they are best used to make a colourful salad. Basically peppers come in various shades because they variants of Capsicum annum.
These peppers contain no capsaicin which is found in green chillies and red ones. This is the substance that makes chillies hot and spicy. Sweet peppers and chillies are in the same family but are in no way related to black pepper. Columbus discovered these peppers in South America when he was looking for black pepper, and they were first known in Spanish as pimiento. The pimiento pepper is actually a sweet one, but is heart-shaped rather than bell shaped, and this is the pepper used to stuff green olives. There are other pepper varieties including the banana pepper, so-called because it is yellow and shaped like a banana.
The red pepper is the best in terms of health benefits as it contains more vitamins and nutrients than the other peppers. It is best used raw in salads to get the full health benefits. It has 9 times more carotene in it than a green one, and twice the vitamin C content. These also contain lycopene which is what makes them red, the same substance is found in watermelons and tomatoes. This is good for a man’s prostate health and for erectile dysfunctions. It also seems to help lower the risk of heart diseases. It may also help the eyes by helping to prevent cataracts.
When green peppers are subjected to a high heat, such as when grilled they lose most of their lutein content, so they are best cooked for a short period on a low heat. Add them to dishes just before they are ready (about 15 minutes before).
The pepper has been cultivated for more than 9,000 years in South and Central America to which it is native. Mexico is now the world’s second largest commercial producer after China, with the US third.
In China these peppers are used in traditional medicine for digestive problems and to improve blood circulation.
Tomatoes and sweet peppers are the only two vegetables which contain two-thirds of all listed nutrients; they have 18 amino acids, Omega-3 fatty acid, are rich in vitamins A and C, and contain the minerals iron, copper, calcium, molybdenum, zinc, selenium, manganese and magnesium as well as zeaxanthin and lutein (carotenoids) among other substances including dietary fibre.
Use the coloured ones in salads and as garnishes and the green ones for cooking and try this tasty recipe below; it is fusion food, being typically Greek with added Asian influences.
YEMISTA, ASIAN - STYLE
4 green peppers
4 Mediterranean beef tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 heaped tbsp rice per vegetable to be stuffed
50 gr pine nuts, dry fried
2 tsps cumin seeds dry fried and ground
50 gr sultanas
1 handful of fresh mint leaves shredded
100gr grated Parmesan cheese, or kephalotyri, or Graviera
½ inch piece of cassia bark for each vegetable
1 pint chicken stock
1 glass white wine
a little sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5, 180°C / 375° F.
Remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers, keeping them in tact.
Remove the pulp from the tomatoes and puree it.
Mix the rice, onions, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, sultanas, cumin seeds, fresh herbs, and Parmesan cheese together with the tomato puree and stuff this into each vegetable leaving about ¼ inch from the top so that the rice can expand.
Put a small piece of cassia bark in the middle of each vegetable stuffing.
Top with lids which you have in reserve.
Place all the vegetables, upright in a baking tray and pour the chicken stock and white wine into the tray so that it comes a quarter of the way up the vegetables.
Baste the vegetables with a little olive oil and the stock.
Cook for 1¾ hours of until the peppers are tender.
Turn off the oven and leave the vegetables to settle for another hour.
Serve with a Greek salad and extra Feta cheese.
This has Taste and is a Treat.