Capsicum Masala: Making The Simple Vegetable Appealing
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The usual vegetable curry involving capsicum is either with potato or with paneer. And these two combinations of capsicum preparation have been overused. Coming from the ghettos of Karnataka is a capsicum dry curry that involves the addition of toor dal. No potatoes or tomatoes in this capsicum curry, and yet it is one of the most appealing of the preparations. An amalgamation of antioxidants from the capsicum and the protein from dal, Capsicum Masala from Karnataka is a must-try.

Having originated in the Americas, the vegetable got various names as it travelled across the world. The original name that it was identified with was chilli which came from the Nahuatl word chīlli, which represented a larger capsicum variety that was cultivated since 3,000 BC.

And much like the crop of potato that came to India through the Portuguese traders, capsicum too found its way to the Indian soil the same way. The Portuguese travellers and traders brought this crop to India from Brazil sometime prior to 1885. As we know that the foreign traders came to India through the southern waters, they first dropped the crop there before it travelled to the rest of India. In the present scenario, Karnataka stands second in the production of capsicum in India after West Bengal.

As for the concept of preparing a curry, it is solely the invention of Indians. There are archaeological shreds of evidence dating back to 2,600 BCE from the time of Mohenjo-Daro, suggesting the grounding of spices such as mustard, fennel, cumin, and tamarind to form curry.

Here’s the recipe for Capsicum Masala.


2 capsicums

1 cup chopped onions

6 garlic cloves

⅓ cup toor dal

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp garam masala

2 tbsp roasted peanut powder

½ tamarind

Salt, to taste


  • Cook toor dal in a pressure cooker and keep it aside. Meanwhile, chop the capsicum into big chunks.  
  • On medium heat, place a pan and pour oil. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Sauté until it starts crackling. 
  • Then, add the garlic and chopped onions. Sauté until the onions become translucent.
  • Then, add turmeric and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes. 
  • To this add the chopped capsicum and give it all a good mix. 
  • Cover it and let it cook until the capsicum turns soft.
  • Pour the cooked toor dal and let it cook for about 5 minutes. 
  • To this, add tamarind water, jaggery, salt, red chilli powder, garam masala, and peanut powder. 
  • Mix all this together very well and cook for 5-6 minutes. Serve hot.