Indian Spiced Onions with Sweet Pepper Sauce Recipe
Indian spiced onions - as they are generally prepared in Western restaurants and homes, at least - will usually be made with a sauce base of tomato ketchup. While that method does produce excellent quality and delicious spiced onions suitable to be served with an impressive variety of accompaniments, this recipe is slightly different in that it not only uses a mixed pepper and tomato sauce, the first step is to produce the sauce from scratch using fresh ingredients.
The sweet peppers used in this recipe are palermo peppers but you could use bell peppers or a similar mild variety of pepper where palermoes are not available.
(Note - check further down this page for a bonus recipe detailing an alternative use for the base sauce as a pasta accompaniment)
How to Make Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: Half pint/one cup (approximately) of sauce
- 2 sweet pointed palermo peppers
- 4 small to medium tomatoes
- 1 medium red chilli pepper
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the tomatoes and both types of peppers and pat dry with kitchen paper. Preheat your oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Drizzle a roasting tray with olive oil. Make a moderate sized slit in each tomato and pepper and lay them on the tray. The slit is to stop them suddenly bursting in the oven and making a mess. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and place the tray in to the heated oven.
The precise time taken for the tomatoes and peppers to roast will vary depending upon the varieties used and your oven. In this instance, they took forty-five minutes to cook down as required (see above photo) but it's a good idea to check on them after half an hour, just to see how they're getting on and give you an idea how much longer they are likely to take. When they are done, take the tray from the oven and leave for about fifteen minutes or until the peppers and tomatoes are cool enough to handle.
There is no more effective substitute for using your fingers when it comes to removing the cores/seeds from the tomatoes and peppers. A teaspoon is a useful aid, though, and if using a very hot chilli pepper, you may wish to wear plastic gloves. Tear the stalk from the peppers and scoop out the seeds. Scoop the seeds from the tomatoes. Notice that they are not being skinned as blending will take care of that issue. Add the flesh parts to a large bowl as you free them from the seeds and put the seeds back in to the roasting tray.
Suspend a moderately large but fine meshed sieve over the bowl. You want to get all the oils and juices from the roasting process in to your sauce. Simply pour the contents of the tray in to the sieve and leave to drain off for a few minutes. You can then discard the seeds and cores.
The flesh, skins and juices of the peppers and tomatoes can now be added to your blender or food processor and blitzed until a smooth, rich sauce is formed. You should have no need for any further liquid additions.
The finished sauce should be of a consistency similar to tomato ketchup. There is no need to season at this stage as that will be taken care of as part of the process of making the spiced onions.
Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
Indian cooking is often seen as being complicated, largely due to the frequently long ingredients lists and the number of herbs and spices used in Indian recipes. If there is one food writer who can take the complexities out of Indian cooking, however, it is the queen of Indian cuisine herself, Madhur Jaffrey. Spiced onions is a great way of starting out your venture in to Indian cooking but why not explore further and learn from the skills and experiences of a true culinary master? (Also available from Amazon UK)
How to Make the Indian Spiced Onions
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: n/a
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons pepper and tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 2 teaspoons medium chilli powder (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons caster/superfine sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped mint leaves
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
Add all the ingredients except the onions to a large bowl and stir until a smooth paste is formed.
You can slice the onions any way you wish but it's a good idea not to have the pieces too large or they may be difficult to plate/portion. This of course depends entirely upon how you plan on serving them.
Add the onion slices to the bowl of sauce and stir in a folding motion until all the onions are evenly coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.
While the spiced onions are now technically ready to serve, you will find they taste much better if you give all the flavours time to infuse. This is done by covering the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerating for a minimum of two hours, though overnight is even better.
Indian Spiced Onion Serving Suggestions
Spiced onions are commonly served in Indian restaurants as a starter/appetizer - or even as a pre-starter while you browse the menu - with poppadums. Alternatively, they can be served as a condiment with a main meal and perhaps scooped up with an Indian flatbread such as naan or chapati.
There are any number of ways, however, in which spiced onions can be served as they are very versatile and there are a great many food types which they complement beautifully. Above and below are a couple of simple but delicious options. First of all, they are served on toast circles with a hard boiled egg and chive garnish. Below, they are served simply with some cheddar cheese and cheese crackers.
Bonus Recipe! Fusilli Pasta with Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce
The way the sauce is prepared in the main recipe featured on this page is very similar to the way in which many pasta sauces are prepared, usually using only tomatoes. This extra recipe shows a delicious but incredibly simple way in which this sauce can be made to accompany many different types of pasta - in this case, fusilli.
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: One serving
- 2 medium handfuls dried fusilli pasta
- 2 tablespoons sweet pepper and tomato sauce (as prepared on this page)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Black pepper
- Grated cheddar cheese to garnish (optional)
InstructionsClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, stir briefly but well and bring to a moderate simmer for eight minutes.
- When the pasta is simmering, add the basic sauce to a saucepan. Add the garlic and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Heat gently until simmering.
- Drain the pasta well before adding to the hot sauce. Gently fold it through with a wooden spoon.
- Spoon the pasta and sauce in to a serving bowl and garnish with the grated cheese.
© 2014 Gordon Hamilton