Friday, February 03, 2017

My Chili Recipe

Whenever I go camping with the guys I bring a batch of homemade chili with me. This seems to be a hit eating it with goat/sheep on rice so the guys ask me to bring it every time. Recently some people have been asking me for the recipe so I figured I'd just post it here for everyone's benefit.

This is a vegetarian chili. In fact, if you're careful about the sauces, it can easily be a vegan chili. Some people commented to me that they were surprised it was vegetarian, there's so many flavors going on I guess people just assumed there was some ground beef in it or something.

I think the secret to its nice taste is complexity. There are a lot of different spices and sauces in it. It’s not just tons of chili peppers and some Tabasco. There's also a number of sweet things in it to balance the spice. In fact, there’s so many different things in it that it is not a big deal if you're missing some things, feel free to add different spices or flavours to it and see what happens.

As for how “spicy-hot” it should be it is difficult to determine since people have different levels of heat tolerance. I get around this by making two pots, a larger pot with almost no hot spices and a smaller pot which is very, very hot. People can then mix the two depending on the spice level they want. If someone doesn't like things being too spicy then take three or four scoops non-spicy with one scoop spicy, and so on.

In the recipe I separate out the hot spices. When you make the chili you use all of the non-spicy ingredients for both pots but use very little or none of the hot spices in the “non-spicy” pot, instead put them in your hot chili. I tend to split the non-spicy ingredients 3 to 1 between the non-spicy and spicy pots (so if the recipe mentions 4 cans of something I’ll use 3 cans in the non-spicy pot and 1 in the spicy pot) but it depends on the size of pots you use and how hot everyone prefers. The hot chili will be H-O-T.

Some of these ingredients don’t have measurements, go with what you like, go crazy! Don’t let The Man tell you what to do! Modify the amount of ingredients if your pots are smaller.

Ingredients and recipe:

Stage 1:

Olive oil
2 onions
At least 4 green/yellow/red peppers (try to have different colours, it looks nicer)
Cloves of garlic
Spicy: at least 2 different kinds of chili peppers

Chop up all the vegetables. Heat the pots to medium or low-medium to heat up the olive oil, then sauté the onions, garlic and peppers. Don’t make the oil too hot, sautéing should take around 8-10 minutes. Try not to brown the vegetables, there'll be plenty more cooking to come, just soften them up.

Stage 2:

Ground cumin
Other dry, leafy spices that you want (Basil? Rosemary? Sage? Go for it.)
4 cans of diced tomatoes (with liquid)
2-3 cups of water
Spicy: chili powder (add many different ones if you have them available)

Add the dry spices to the sautéed vegetables, mix a bit, then add the diced tomatoes and water. How much spice? For a big pot I'd use it least 1 tablespoon of cumin, maybe more, and for the leaf spices I just add “a bunch”. I don’t measure it but it's probably around a teaspoon to tablespoon for each. Err on the light side for how much water to add, if the chili is looking too dry you can always add more water later, but if you have too much water then you're at risk for making a soup and not a chili.

Once the mixture heats up turn it down to a low heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Leave the pots uncovered. Simmer longer if it looks like there's too much water.

While it is simmering there is another spice I add – red Tandoori spice. It's not essential but the tandoori spice really adds a nice red color.

Stage 3:

3-4 cans red kidney beans, drained
2-3 cans black beans, drained (see below, I use an unusual bean for this)
2-3 cans of corn, drained
Mushrooms, chopped
Black pepper
Other spices that you have sitting in your spice rack that you think might go good in this
2-3 small cans of tomato paste
Maple syrup and/or honey
Other sweet sauces (I generally use HP sauce, sweet bbq sauces, low-heat peri-peri sauce and/or sweet chili sauces, try to use at least a few different ones)
DO NOT USE: granulated sugars – if they don’t dissolve then you get crunchy grains of sugar in your chili. Not good.
DO NOT USE: salt if you’ve used ingredients that contain a lot of salt

Spicy: tabasco
Spicy: extra-hot Nando’s peri-peri sauce
Spicy: any other hot sauce I have around, the more the merrier

Black Beans: I discovered a brand of fermented black beans from Asia that I use in the chili. These beans are extremely salty, I think just one tin, undrained, contains over 25x the recommended daily intake of salt. I think they go great in the chili but if you use them you definitely do not need to add additional salt. In Qatar these beans can be hard to find so as soon as I see them in a grocery store I pick up some tins for the next time I make chili.

Stage 3 directions: Add everything, simmer on low heat for at least another 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t forget to put the sweet sauces into the spicy chili as well. Give it a taste every now and then and add more spices, sweeteners or sauces if you feel like it or if one flavour is overpowering and you want to balance it out. Add a bit more water if it's looking too thick and dry. The spicy chili should be head-exploding spicy.

And that’s my chili. I hope you enjoy it.


Kristelle Mae Macanas said...


Do you know where can I buy this in Doha? Is this available at Carrefour?

Thank you.

Glen McKay said...

All the ingredients you should be able to find in places like Carrefour. The only issues are the black beans and the maple syrup, they can be hard to find and many times Carrefour won't have it. You'll then need to check other grocery stores to see if it's there. Family Food Centre usually has maple syrup and sometimes the beans as well.