dinner,  gluten free,  leftovers,  prepare now, eat later,  vegan

Chili sin carne (that will make you stop missing the “con”)

I’ve tried many vegan chili recipes and all of them lacked something. Sometimes it was the right mix of spices, sometimes the consistency was off, sometimes I just thought that the meatless version cannot be compared to the original. So I made my own, and the chances you are never going to cook another one are pretty high. The key to success lies in replacing ground meat with green lentils (and that works even for lentil haters). This chili is filling, easy, freezes well and the total cost of eight portions comes to about 5 euro. A nice added bonus: at the end, you will only have one pot, wooden spoon, chopping board and a knife dirty. All of the ingredients can also be stored almost infinitely, which makes it a nice dish to cook over holidays, when shops are closed, or just when you don’t feel like leaving home 

It’s best to start a day ahead: cook the lentils while you prepare dinner and you are in the kitchen anyway. Drain them and keep in the fridge, and this will save you about half an hour the next day. But if you want to do everything on the same day, that’s fine – you’ll be done in 1,5 h anyway (with “active” cooking time of tops 10 minutes), which is nothing when you think about the leftovers you’ll have for next couple of days. 

I can see your eyebrows raising when you reach the spices section in ingredients: trust me. Cacao and cinnamon are crucial to achieving the deep, addicting flavour. Do not cut the amount of spices: otherwise, you can end with a disappointment similar to mine described in the first paragraph. It will come together perfectly. 

Chili sin carne (8 servings)

3 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, 
3 tbsp neutral oil
1 glass green lentils
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn
2 cans chopped tomatoes, or 700g fresh tomatoes, skins removed, chopped
3 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp spicy paprika
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp soy sauce (for gf version – tamari)

Rinse and cook the green lentils in lightly salted water (two glasses) for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool (or cook a day ahead and keep in the fridge). Dice the onion and garlic, heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven. Fry the onions and garlic on medium heat, and when they become translucent add cooked lentils, 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of smoked paprika. Fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Then add tomatoes, rinsed beans, corn, and remaining spices, and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens. It should get reddish-brown and a bit glossy – for me it usually takes 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid burning on the bottom of the pan. 

I like to eat it just with plain rice, but adding a splash of vegan unsweetened yogurt and a lime, or putting it in a burrito are also nice ideas. This chili sin carne keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days, and tastes good defrosted.  

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