As I’ve already posted an extremely delicious Beef Chilli I thought it would be best to share my recipe for the vegetarian version. To be honest it must be admitted that over the past couple of weeks I’ve fallen off the band wagon of health, so my next few posts shall be dedicated to rectifying this relapse. I think it’s the shock of doing lots of shifts in work that has forced me into my old and particularly sordid ways. However, autumn food is generally of the sort that can be cooked in advanced and left on the stove for heating up and or dipping into – which is why it is also some of my favourite.
First of all, it should be said that it has been remarked that this dish absolutely doesn’t miss the presence of meat. The lentils provide it with body, almost meat-like in texture, which would confuse even the most turgid and morose of carnivores. On a more serious note, why do some people insist on having meat with every single meal? After watching quite a few episodes of Come Dine With Me, a British dinner party show, it has become apparent that if there isn’t meat in the main course at least two of the guests refuse to be happy – something which I find a little naïve and childish. For instance, in this dish, the inclusion of dark chocolate more than makes up for any richness that may be left wanting due to the lack of meat. In fact, it might be said that chocolate works in this dish better than beef does, since chilli and chocolate is an age old combination – just ask the Mayans.
Lentil and Kidney Bean Chilli
• 400g tin of kidney beans
• A generous handful of red split lentils
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 pepper, finely sliced
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 2 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes
• 1 generous tablespoon of dark chocolate, chopped
• 1 tbsp tomato puree
• Olive oil
• 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
• 2 chillies, finely chopped
• 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 2 bay leaves
1. Begin by frying off the onion, garlic, cumin and cinnamon in a generous slosh of oil. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft, add the pepper and chillies and cook for a further 5 minutes.
2. Tip in the tins of plum tomatoes, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves and chocolate, stir until all combined. Then add the lentils and kidney beans, simmer until the lentils are just tender – one may need to add a little water. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt or crème fraîche and garnish with a little fresh coriander.
Cost: As one might imagine the exclusion of meat from this dish reduced its cost per portion rather significantly – the kidney beans cost 16p! Indeed, one should expect to pay roughly £1.20 for the entire meal, bringing each portion in at a mouth-wateringly low 30p, if not less.