Black pepper is one of the most ancient and popular of all the spices—the “King of Spices.”

The black peppers are ripened berries separated from stalk. Black and white peppers are prepared from the same berries and are mostly ground and used in powder form.

When I was growing up, I remember my mother always using whole black peppercorns while making exotic rice dishes (vegetable pulav or Biryani, in India). The heating nature of pepper helped the rice cook fully and made it very aromatic. Even plain rice cooked with little ghee (purified butter ), 3–4 peppercorns, and 2–3 cloves tastes so good and has delicious aroma.

As well as being a great condiment used extensively in many culinary dishes, ketchups, sauces, pickles and for seasoning, the healing properties of pepper are many. It is very good for lungs and heart. When we suffered from  coughs and colds, or had a sore throat, mom would make a mixture of honey and black pepper powder and have us lick a spoonful of it 2–3 times a day—it always worked. Other uses include

  • Pepper has a stimulating effect on digestive organs, enhancing the flow of saliva and gastric juices. It can aid in the relief of digestive disorders. A quarter spoon of pepper powder mixed in buttermilk along with cumin powder helps indigestion.
  • Mix pepper powder with common salt and clove oil to treat toothache. Massage your gums with it can help relieve inflammation and swelling.
  • It is a wonderful nerve tonic if taken with almonds and milk.
  • Helps relieve flatulence. 

Because of the health challenges we are facing today with COVID-19, and knowing the health benefits of black pepper for lungs and heart, I have started using it daily with a lot of respect, in many dishes I prepare to keep me and my family safe and healthy.  Below find a recipe for Paneer Bell Pepper Fry (Paneer is a soft Indian cheese that doesn’t melt. It’s easy to make at home if you can’t find it locally—it only takes about an hour to make!) with generous seasoning of black pepper. Hope you try and like it.

Recipe: Paneer Bell Pepper Fry

Ingredients

1 green bell pepper 
1 red bell pepper
28 oz Paneer bar
1 tsp of coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp of red pepper powder (optional)
1/4 tsp of Asefoetida
1/2 tsp of turmeric 
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt for taste

Directions

  1. Wash and dice the green and red pepper into small pieces.
  2. Cut the paneer into small cubes.
  3. Warm the olive oil, then temper the mustard seeds.
  4. Add Asefoetida, ground black pepper powder, turmeric, red pepper powder, and paneer pieces, stir well. Let it cook for a minute or two 
  5. Add diced bell pepper and stir well.
  6. Add salt and stir continuously for 8–10 minutes on high flame.
  7. Serve hot with bread or rice.

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