Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MIXED BEAN CHILLI


Having been on a life-long quest to perfect my vegetarian chilli, I admit I am a bit obsessive about this. For perfection, I will usually soak and cook the beans before turning them into this rich, thick and spicy chilli. When it comes to spiciness, hotter is always better - cooling down is what the lime-scented creme fraiche is for!

Madhur Jaffrey offers a (hopefully authentic) Texan Chilli recipe in World Vegetarian. It's good, but lentilly. I like lots of different shaped beans in this, dotted with bright green and red pepper chunks. Linda McCartney's recipe is good, but I think the addition of Tabasco and paprika makes mine shout louder. Oh, but the great thing Linda McCartney taught me is how to serve bean chilli. Ladle it onto hot, deep plates, surrounded by rice or nachos (preferably both), sprinkle with good grated cheese, and zap under a hot grill. Another great idea from Linda is to sprinkle roasted chunks of sweet potato (or even squash) over the chilli, before the cheese. You can adapt this and serve bowls of chilli with platters of squash wedges, nachos, wild rice and creme fraiche on the table. A feast fit for a carnivore.

BEAN CHILLI

2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5tsp paprika
1tsp dried or fresh thyme
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tin tomatoes
2tsp tomato ketchup or puree
A good splash of Tabasco sauce
Sprinkle (0.5tsp) chilli flakes
200g cooked kidney beans (or 1 tin)
200g cooked chick peas (or 1 tin)

1tsp cornflour dissolved in cold water (optional)

Saute the onion, garlic, paprika and thyme very gently; add the peppers and allow to soften without browning. Add the remaining ingredients, and let the whole lot simmer for a good, long time. Taste for seasoning. It may need a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of lime juice, or extra Tabasco.

Serve with LIME & CORIANDER CREME FRAICHE: Tip a tub of creme fraiche into a pretty serving bowl. Beat it with the juice of half a lime, a pinch of salt, and a good tablespoon of finely-chopped coriander.

Dish up the chilli into bowls, sprinkle more coriander over the top, and serve with nachos, wild rice, guacamole, and creme fraiche. Or just bread. Who cares when the chilli's this good?!