We are having a chili contest at the office today. What’s the vegetarian to do to have an acceptable entry? I feel like the proverbial cat with a long tail in a room full of rocking chairs. Off to the market to find good ingredients. Let’s make this as fresh as possible and see if I can add a touch or two that will interest and surprise the palate. I don’t want it to be too spicy or have the heat of the chillies overwhelm the taster.
Vegetarian Chili is not an Oxymoron
For all that's made of chili, at its essence it's a pretty simple dish with tomatoes beans, meat and chili powder. A few herbs and spices. Like with most simple dishes, it offers the cook opportunity to show skill, add complexity and depth of flavors. Once you get the hang of it you can try other ingredients like green tomatoes, tomatillos, cactus leaves, tamarind paste and so on. Hold the salt and the chili. Bad chili is full of both.
- Chopped Sweet Onions - 1/2 cup
- Chopped red or green pepper - 1/2 cup
- Diced Celery - 1 cup
- minced garlic - 3 cloves
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- fresh or dry oregano - 1/2 tsp
- ground cumin - 1 tsp
- Rasam Powder(optional) - 1 tsp
- Fresh Ground Pepper - 1/2 tsp
- Chili Powder - 1 tsp
- chili flakes - 1/4 tsp
- Fresh jalapeño chiles diced - 2
- fresh Serrano Chiles diced - 1
- assorted canned beans - 6 cups
- Diced Plum Tomatoes or diced canned Tomatoes - 6 cups
- Chopped Cilantro (coriander leaves) - 1/2 bunch
- Corn kernels - 1 cup
- canned green chili - 4 tbs
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add the chili flakes, cumin and oregano. Add celery and diced peppers and diced chillies and canned chili. As the onions clear, add the ground spices and the ground pepper. After a minute add the tomatoes. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Add all the assorted beans and store and bring to a boil and lower the heat. Add the corn. (you could roast an ear of corn on a flame and slice off the kernels for an extra complex flavor. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and some fresh lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt or sour cream and crusty bread or toast.