A favourite of mine – very simple, hearty, tasty, and filling, and the lentils can be substituted for minced meat if you want a non-veggie version. This is a fairly chunky chilli, as I love it that way, and I usually cheat and use a pre-mixed Chilli spice mix, like Old el Paso or Discovery, but I’ve added an alternative if you don’t have access to those. It is almost identical to my Vegetarian Bolognaise too – with only a few small differences.
This recipe makes a large vat of chilli – this is because it keeps really well and I usually like to make an enormous pan of it at once and then freeze portions for quick dinners I can microwave/defrost during the week, but it can also be good if you’re having a lot of people over – it also often tastes better if you prepare it the day before and re-heat it, as it gives the spices time to develop and you get a much richer flavour. However you can always halve the recipe if you don’t feel like feeding an army or filling up your freezer with tasty quick meals!
Serves 8-10 (suitable for freezing)
1 mug of dried green lentils (or 2 cans of pre-soaked lentils)
2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
3 large carrots, chopped into small pieces
2 red onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 courgette, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
Beef stock/vegetable stock
Lea and Perrins (Worcestershire sauce) – or balsamic vinegar
Old el Paso Chilli flavouring powder (or if you don’t have the pre-mixed version, try 1 teaspoon each of chilli powder, cumin powder, and cinnamon powder).
Cheddar cheese, grated
1. Boil the lentils in plenty of water for around 40 mins or until they are nice and soft. you may need to stir them occasionally to stop them sticking, or top up with water if it gets too dry. Drain and set aside (you can have these boiling while you are chopping the veg and cooking the rest). Or you can just rinse your canned lentils and add them straight into the chilli later on.
2. Heat a large glug of oil in a large, deep pan, and fry the onions and garlic on a medium heat until softened.
3. Add the chopped carrots, red pepper, and courgette to the pan, and fry for about 10 mins until slightly softened.
4. Throw in the kidney beans and tinned tomatoes, as well as the chilli spice mix, and stir on a medium heat, adding a cup or two of water or vegetable stock – the liquid will thicken and reduce so don’t worry if it’s a bit watery at this stage – if you are worried, you can always add a small amount of water now, and top up with more water as you cook it.
5. Add the cooked lentils, and season with salt, pepper and balsamic/lea and perrins to your liking. If it is not spicy enough, add more chilli powder
6. If you have used a chilli spice mix, you may not need to add stock or salt, but if you used cumin, chilli and cinnamon powder, add some extra salt or stock.
7. Simmer it on a low heat for around 40 mins / 1 hour, stirring regularly. Check to make sure it doesn’t get too dry – adding water, stock, or if you want a more tomato-ey flavour, you can add some pasta sauce from a jar, or chopped fresh tomatoes. If it’s too watery, remove the lid and let the liquid boil off a bit, otherwise keep the lid on while simmering.
8. Serve it with your carbohydrate of choice – rice, crusty bread and butter, or a jacket potato (depending on your preferences!), and some grated cheddar and/or a dollop of sour cream.