Monday this autumn has been swimming day for us, so normally I make some kind of soup as it's easy to heat up when the kids and I get back. But today, I felt like something different, something to mark the end of the Monday afternoon swim lessons. Something like CHILLI!
Now, now, don't get too excited. It isn't chilli con carne, but a vegetarian chilli based off of a recipe in Nigella Lawson's Feast. (and yes, I have been watching the news each day for reports on the trial. I find it ghoulishly fascinating getting a glimpse inside the Domestic Goddess's household. Yes, I'm a bad person). This recipe is wonderfully tasty, and not so runny, bland, or wholesome tasting as I find most veggie chillis. It's gooood, real gooooood, but I can't pretend it's the same as the meat lover's variety.
First, I actually got my act together enough to put out the ingredients. Trust me, this was more than I expected myself capable of today:
It's a huge recipe. I make the full batch and then freeze about 2/3 of it for future lazy evenings. I can usually get my kids to eat this pretty easily, so I'm happy to make a big batch of it.
First, in went the onions. Nigella says to put the onions in with the peppers and garlic straight away, but I didn't have enough room on my chopping board to easily slice them all at once, so I just stuck the onions in to cook while I went on to do the peppers. Why use more than one chopping board or bowl if you don't have to?
So those sizzled and I chopped up the peppers and added them.
Then I put the garlic on top. Stir, stir, stir, soften, soften, soften.
Now for a bit of SPICE. Me like-a the spice-a!
Coriander seed, lots of paprika, cardamom pods, and ground cumin went in. I usually use cumin seeds, but the other day I bought some, used them, and then couldn't find them, so went out to my corner shop and bought the only form of cumin they had, which was ground cumin. I then came home to find the cumin seeds...in the fridge. Oops. Stupid brain. So now I'm using up the ground cumin as it doesn't last as long as the seeds.
And I use paprika rather than the crushed chilli she calls for because my little people eat more if I don't put it in. Paprika adds a similar flavour without making my kids drink 2 gallons of water with their meal.
You needed to know all that, didn't you? Course you did.
Once those had heated up, in went a couple boxes of chopped tomatoes.
And some water from rinsing them out. I got the wooden utensil from Williams Sonoma, a store I love that can be a bit over the top: http://deadspin.com/the-2013-haters-guide-to-the-williams-sonoma-catalog-1481230580
Then in went the kidney beans. I use canned beans, because apart from the fact that cooking your own beans is a pain in the backside, I find I never manage to get them soft enough when I cook them myself. Then I read about how if you under-cook kidney beans it can make you deathly ill, even land you in hospital, and decided I'm done with using dried kidney beans.
For more kidney bean stories, read this: http://dailynewsen.com/2013/10/18/delia-smith-and-esther-rantzen-reheat-1970s-chilli-con-carne-feud.html
or just keep looking at my chilli being created. Your choice.
A squirt of ketchup.
Some more squirts of tomato puree
Then some oregano and some unsweetened cocoa powder. Trust me on this one.
Oh, and the lentils. They were supposed to go in after we fried up the spices, but I forgot. It'll be fine.
A quick stir...
Then I let it simmer for 40 minutes. At the end, I sprinkled some chopped coriander on it and left it to intensify in flavour until we returned in the evening. We had some rice and sour cream with ours with some tortilla chips on the side too. And now, in my freezer, in 6 different randomly sized containers, I have what's left of it. Why so many? Because those are the only ones I could find, of course.
Vegetarian Chilli (adapted from recipe in Nigella Lawson's Feast)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large peppers, diced
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 300g red lentils
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cans water from tomato containers
- 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 Tbsp ketchup
- 3 Tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- For serving:
- small handful fresh coriander, chopped
- sour cream
- tortilla chips
- To prepare chili, heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a deep, wide pan with a lid. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers, and sauté until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in paprika, coriander, cumin and cardamom pods. Stir in lentils.
- Add chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, ketchup, tomato paste, cocoa, oregano, and water. Stir well. Cover, and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened and beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Taste and season. Sprinkle on coriander and serve alongside rice, sour cream, and tortilla chips.