Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Bean Chilli

You may think this looks like a bowl of beany mush, and you'd be right, it is. But therein lies the joy, bean chilli and various versions of it are delicious and nutritious, and can also be used in a million different ways (slight exaggeration)!

I love it simply with bulghar wheat or rice and yoghurt. But you could have it with pasta, in a lasagne, with tortillas, sour cream and guacamole, the list goes on...The great thing is, it will improve overnight and hence can and should be cooked in advance, plus you can make loads and freeze the leftovers, which is always nice.

I like to add red lentils to my chilli to thicken the sauce and as a different texture. I also (shock, horror) cooked the beans from dried and didn't soak them. From experience cooking vast stockpots of beans at Piece of Plenty, I realised that you don't need to soak them and the key is really to just cook them for long enough (which is a long time). But, its no bother, they don't come to any real harm puttering away on the hob and you can get on with other things in the meantime. One word of warning, when cooking mung beans, for some reason, the point between being cooked perfectly and turning to mush is very close together, so when they look nearly done, you might need to watch them a little more closely.

Cocoa might seem a slightly strange addition to chilli, but as long as you don't add too much (which I have before), its not overpowering but simply adds a richness.

Bean Chilli

Serves 4

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 red chillis, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don't like it hot)
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 2 x 400g cans of any beans, or 200g dried beans, cooked
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • 1tbsp cocoa
Fry the onions, pepper, garlic and chilli until soft. Add the spices and fry for a little longer, now add the rest of ingredients except the cocoa and simmer gently for about 30mins or until the lentils are cooked, now add the cocoa and cook for 5mins. Season to taste.

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