Chili Con Veduras

Summer or winter, rain or shine, veg chilli is the perfect dinner party dish. Whack it straight on the table and let people help themselves, you can even make it the day before – it’ll taste even better. Whether you’re doing meal prep, or cooking for 6, it’s a tasty, healthy, cheap and easy option. The flavours are beautifully layered and the house will be filled with delicious smells.

As with any spicy dish, add the whole spices (cumin seeds) to oil and the powdered spices after the tomatoes, when there is more water in the pan so that they don’t burn. Even if you’re not a fan of coriander, I would advise putting in at least the stalks. You could also chop the leaves finely and stir them so that the flavour isn’t as overpowering. 

Don’t give up on the rice: just follow the instructions and make sure you are paying attention to the amount of water in the pan, use a fork to get right in and see the bottom. If it’s looking like it’s cooking quickly and it’s still wet, remove the lid and let the water bubble off. You shouldn’t have to drain it. 

Serves 6

For the Chilli: 

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 red or orange peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 chili, finely diced (seeds in or out depending on preference) 
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika, plus some for seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus some for seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper, plus some for seasoning
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 500g butternut squash, reserving the peel and seeds for stock (optional)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 400g tin kidney beans
  • 400g tin black beans
  • 30g of coriander, leaves separated from the stalks
  • 1 lime
  • olive or rapeseed oil 
  • 400g white basmati rice
  • 300ml creme fraiche 

For the Guac:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • a small handful of the coriander leaves
  • zest and juice of 1 lime

Rinse the rice and soak for at least 30 minutes in cold water before cooking. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Peel and dice the squash and sweet potatoes, I like to make a stock from the peel and seeds from the squash to add to the chilli later on – so chuck them on to boil in a lidded saucepan with 500ml of water now.

Finely chop the onion and peppers and fry them in a few tablespoons of oil oil for ten minutes on a low heat, in a heavy based pan for which you have a lid.

Coat the sweet potato and squash with oil and season with the powdered spices, salt and pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes in a roasting tray; remove when ready and add to the chili at the end. 

When the onions and peppers have softened add the chili, garlic and the coriander stalks, finely chopped. Fry for a minute, then make a little well in the middle of the pan and add a tiny bit more oil and the cumin seeds, letting them sizzle for 10 seconds before stirring the whole lot together. 

Add the tin of tomatoes and the rest of the spices. Drain the stock and add as much of it to the pan as you think you need – you may not need all of it. Let the chilli simmer for as long as possible, adding liquid if it looks too dry. Alternatively, you could put the pan in the oven, whichever suits.  

For the guac, destone the avocados and scoop them out into a bowl. Add the lime and then mash with a potato masher. Season very well with salt and pepper and stir through the coriander leaves. Serve alongside the chilli. 

When you are 12 minutes before serving, drain and rinse the rice and add it to your empty stock pan with 1.5 x the amount of water to rice. Bring it to a boil and let it bubble for two minutes before turning it right down and covering with a lid. Check after 5 more minutes, removing the lid if the rice is nearly cooked but there is still water in the pan. Do not stir. You want the rice to be dry in the pan when ready but not sticky.

10 minutes before you are ready to serve, add to the chilli both tins of beans, drained. At the end, add the lime juice, half the coriander leaves and the roasted veg. Season well with salt and pepper, adding cayenne pepper, chili powder or flakes in small amounts to add spice as needed. Sprinkle over the remaining coriander leaves. Plonk the pans on the table and let everyone help themselves, don’t forget the creme fraiche!

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