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Chili sin carne (chili without meat!)

May 16, 2010

Chili sin carne

Serves 6

1 bay leaf
2″ stick of cinnamon or about 1/4 tsp ground
1 tsp fenugreek, if available
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried, crushed chili or 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds, if available
Some fresh coriander to serve

1, 2 or 3 fresh chilies, depending on how hot you like it, de-seeded, if you prefer, and chopped finely
1 large stick celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium red pepper, chopped roughly
1 medium green pepper, chopped roughly
1 tin chopped tomatoes or about 400ml of tomato juice
1 tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 good handful of soya mince, if you fancy it

400ml water or stock (or about 200ml if you’re not using soya mince)
3 tbsp oil. I like to use ground nut oil

Heat the oil in a large pot on a medium-high heat (to test if it’s hot enough, drop in a small piece of onion – It should sizzle loudly). Drop in the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and stir-fry for about 20 seconds. Add the cumin seeds if using and fry for another 10 seconds. Next, add the chilies, celery, onion, garlic and peppers and fry, stirring occasionally, until the veg is soft. Add the ground cumin, fenugreek (if using), chili powder and oregano and stir constantly for about a minute. Now, add the water, bring briefly to the boil and turn the heat down to low. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree. Simmer gently for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

If you’re using soya mince, add it about 1/2 hour before the end and bring back to a simmer. Add the kidney beans about 10 minutes from the end.

Serve with fresh coriander sprinkled on top.


  • If the chili gets too dry whilst cooking, add a little more water or stock and bring back to a simmer.
  • Try replacing some of the water with red wine.
  • If you like the flavour of chili but not the heat, add 1 or 2 whole chilies with a slit cut into them and rescue them at the end of the cooking time.
  • If you like spicy heat, replace the chilies with birds eye chilies or even 1/2 a scotch bonnet. Be careful, scotch bonnets are dangerously hot but have a delicious fruity flavour. You may want to wear latex gloves when chopping these!
  • This chili tastes even better the next day!
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