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Poblano Peppers: The Perfect Substitute for Green Chilies

Authentic Indian food tastes so good because there are usually over a dozen flavours, perfectly balanced, all working together to make whatever entree you're eating taste absolutely incedible.

Indian food is also often hot, and the delicious flavours that make most Indian dishes what they are often come with a lot of heat, so how do you find the right flavours without all that heat? Green chilies are one ingredient that will put you in this quandary. We know not everyone can take the full heat of a spicy Indian green chili, but the flavour of green chilies adds so much to a dish that they're an indispensable ingredient. You can substitute a green bell pepper, and it will taste fine, but really there is no better substitute for green chilies than poblano peppers.

poblano peppers

Why are Poblano Peppers a Good Substitute for Green Chilies?

Poblano is one of the most popular peppers in Mexico. Poblano peppers are beautifully mild green peppers that impart a deeper, smokier flavour than comparable green bell peppers. Compared to Indian green chilies, Poblanos are extremely mild, about 1000-2000 scoville units per pepper compared to 15,000-30,000 scoville units for a green chili.

How to Prepare Poblano Peppers 

Though they originate in Mexico, they are well-adapted to Indian cuisine. In dishes that call for green chilies, a poblano can be stemmed, and sliced lengthwise. Poblanos are often roasted, a process which brings out a muskier, sweeter flavour that works extremely well in blended sauces. If you want to retain what little heat the poblano can offer, then simply slice the pepper lengthwise, and remove the seeds and gills.

There are a few ways to cook peppers in Indian cuisine, however the most common way is to fry them up slowly with onions using a technique called bhuno. Essentially you get your pan just hot enough to fry, then you add your onions, peppers, and perhaps some whole cardamoms or a teaspoon of garam masala and cook over a medium heat until the onions are translucent and sweet. 

One Warning

We should mention that there are two varieties of Poblano pepper, both green and red. The green are mild, the red can be quite spicy, so if you're buying as a mild substitute for green chilies, make sure you're buying green.

In curry dishes where green chilis are an essential finishing touch, such as Tikka, these peppers are perfect. If you do give them a try, let us know by sending us pictures on instagram.com/masterindian, or sharing your results on our facebook page!

July 29, 2019 — Ben M

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