The stuffed capsicums casserole is a sister ( or a brother ) to a traditional dish from my home country Azerbaijan, where it is called Uch Bachi. In translation from Azerbaijani (the language is very similar to Turkish), the name means Three Sisters. It’s made with stuffed mini aubergines, tomatoes and capsicums. Full of beautiful flavours it was one of the most popular dishes cooked in our household and in my nanna’s kitchen during the summer months. I managed to carry on with the tradition and make it the same way my parents used to, at least a few times during summer months here in Australia.
Once summer arrives and my veggie patch will start thriving full with veggies, I promise to share the recipe and you will see it for yourselves just how beautiful “Uch Bachi” looks with its rainbow of colours. Maybe you would even like to cook it in your own kitchen and discover another staple for your summer menu!
The version I’m sharing today is slightly different to the traditional “Uch Bachi”. Some possibly will call it a healthier version for the reasons that it doesn’t call for butter and I’ve replaced white rice with brown rice, but I think it is debatable since I don’t consider butter or white rice unhealthy. Though, I will admit that brown rice carries more dietary benefits and is low GI. Besides all of the above, I love brown rice for those beautiful earthy flavours it carries, what was one of the main reasons for me to use it this time.
Making homemade broth or stock will certainly benefit to the flavour of the dish.
I made my own chicken broth by boiling chicken carcass in 10 cups of water with a bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, carrot, celery stick, onion, 2 garlic cloves and salt to taste. It was absolutely worth that extra few minutes spent on throwing it all in a pot and forgetting about it for the next 2-3 hours while it was simmering.
I’m sorry for how messy the plate with the spilt sauce and herbs is visible in this photograph. Oh, I know if you didn’t pay attention before you read this you are surely seeing it all now. Well, I have a rather good excuse for that. It was extremely hard to fight off our very nosy labradoodle out of the way so I had to do everything as quick as possible and absolutely missed it until it was too late.
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes
3-4 Litre casserole pot
6 medium size capsicums
2-3 tbsp olive oil
500g lean minced beef
1 Spanish onion, finely diced or minced
1-2 garlic cloves crushed
2 large ripe tomatoes, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup brown rice, thoroughly rinsed
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4-6 cups broth or rich stock ( chicken or beef )
1-2 bay leaves
1 dried chilli ( optional )
Preheat oven to 180C
- Wash and pat dry the capsicums.
Slice the tops of the capsicums three-quarters of the way through creating a lid on a 2cm hinge.
Carefully remove the seeds with the help of a spoon, trying not to break the hinge.
- Heat oil in a frying pan and sear the capsicums on all sides over a hight heat.
While capsicums are cooling, in a large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients together ( leaving the broth out for later ).
- Fill the capsicums with the meat mixture to the top.
- Tightly arrange them in a casserole pot.
- Pour the stock in, place the casserole lid on and bring to a simmer, then move into preheated oven and cook for 1 hour.
- Remove the lid, turn the broiler on and cook under the broiler for 5 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
- Serve in soup bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley or mint.
If you can’t find fresh tomatoes, replace them with 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes.
In the place of fresh parsley use 1 tbsp dry parsley.
Brown rice can be replaced with medium grain white rice.
To make sure the capsicums will fit into the pot, try fitting them in before you start cooking, this way you will ensure you have got a right size pot. If there is some spaces left between capsicums try filling them with onion wedges or even a whole tomato or two.
Traditionally I serve the stuffed capsicums topped with greek yoghurt, garlic and mint dressing with slices of sourdough or homemade Tendir Bread on the side.