Xanthan-Free Zone

Real food, incidentally gluten-free.

Archive for Lentils

Vegetarian Chilli with Secret Ingredients

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I have a general preference for not telling people what I’m making for dinner, and not telling them what all the ingredients are before they’ve eaten it and told me it was delicious. Then I feel clever when I explain that cocoa, millet and buckwheat groats are what makes it so good.

This recipe satisfies my penchant for Americana food. It’s adapted from “Pierce St Vegetarian Chili” from Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks, but of course my version is gluten-free, and has some other variations which are mostly the result of the ingredients I had on hand.

This recipe makes great leftovers. It’s carby enough to be eaten on it’s own, but not so carby that you can’t eat it wrapped up in some corn tortillas baked with cheese on top. Yum.

There’s so many elements to this recipe it’s hard for me to say what’s essential to its success. There’s certainly lots of room for experimentation, but I would suggest using only grains and pulses that are likely to hold their shape. If you’re concerned they might go mushy, you can toast them or lightly fry in oil before you add them to the pot and this is supposed to keep them whole.

Serves at least six.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely slicesd
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 dried chillies, finely chopped, with seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp ground up cumin seeds
2/3 cup puy lentils
1/3 cup yellow split peas
1/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup polenta (not instant)
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 cup millet
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 nice ripe tomatoes
dessert spoon molasses 
stock or water
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (or 1 tin)
salt, to taste (quite a lot)

To serve:
Any of sour cream, yoghurt, feta, labna, olive oil or other fancy oil, chopped coriander, squeeze of lime or lemon juice

Fry onions, garlic and ginger in oil in a stockpot – at least 10 minutes. You can put this on and then get all the other ingredients out of the cupboard (assuming you’re not going to be arranging a tableau for a photo). Add chilli, paprika, cocoa and cumin, and stir. You can then add the lentils and grains, or you can pre-fry them in a little oil, or in a dry pan, just for a couple of minutes beforehand. Once you’ve fully combined the lentils and grains with the onions and spices, add the tinned and fresh tomatoes, the molasses and stock or water to cover.

That’s pretty much it. Now you just cook it on a low-medium heat, essentially indefinitely, but at least for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally and add extra water if it’s getting too thick. Ten or 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, add the beans and begin checking for salt. Pulses and grains always require a lot of salt, so it can take quite a while to get the salt right and it’s pretty important. Pulses without enough salt = super bland. If you’ve used tinned beans or bought stock, it will probably already have salt, but you’ll still need to add more. This is also the time to raise the heat and boil off some water if you’ve added too much. It’s supposed to be wet, but not a soup.

Add whatever optional extras you have, and enjoy!