December 31st, 2011
Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Just like the changing seasons in a year, life is never in one constant phase and is interspersed with happiness and sadness, joy and grief, tears and laughter! I was not exactly in high spirits due to certain events in my life when the fall happened!
My precious toddler hurt himself when he accidentally fell off his tricycle, a toy around which he was generally very safe. The cut was quite deep and the doctor had to suture his wound. For us as parents who visited the doctor only for routine vaccinations, curing minor maladies with home remedies, it was a nightmare to go through the whole process. Welcome to a new chapter in parenthood!
For all those who sent me mails and messages and eagerly awaited a christmas post, I’m sorry to disappoint. I took my own time to heal and with the support of my incredible family, my husband, parents and sister and my cheerful and bouncing with life baby, I’m back on track.
I spontaneously decided to make a chili to make myself and my better half feel better. Some spicy vegetarian chili with plain rice or bread, a one pot kind of a meal, the sort of food that Ro adores! With sour cream or hung yogurt and some guacamole as accompaniment this can turn into an elegant affair.
But I decided to keep it simple and served it with plain rice. The chili is enriched with so many complex yet subtle flavours with so many ingredients going into it that it doesnt require anything else. It is also bursting with protein in the form of the kidney beans and crumbled paneer cheese, a trick I picked up from the vegetarian classic, Great Vegetarian Dishes.
This chili is perfect for winter, when it is chilly outside and one years for warm and comforting food. It is spicy, tangy and rich with nutrients. You can have it for lunch and dinner or brunch even paired with a simple rice dish or with your favourite bread. You can also make it a part of an elaborate party menu. I see that this will be beautiful in a buffet or a sit down lunch or dinner when you have planned a mixed cuisine or even a Mexican menu.
As this year draws to an end, I’m in a reflective mood and pondering over the major incidents of my life. The coming year will also be filled with happiness and sadness, joy and grief, tears and laughter. I wish all of you a very happy new year and the strength and resilience to witness and experience what life has to offer. And I end this post with the serenity prayer “Lord, give me the strength to change the things that can be changed, accept those that cannot, and have the wisdom to know the difference”.
Spicy Vegetarian Chili Recipe
This recipe is adapted from the book “Great Vegetarian Dishes” by Kurma Das. You can also replace the kidney beans with black beans and add more vegetables like carrots to make this into a one pot meal. You can replace the cheese with tofu for a vegan version.
270 gm (1 1/4 cups) kidney beans*
45 ml (3 tbsp) oil
2 green chilies (deseeded if you can’t handle the heat!)
1/2 tsp asafetida
2 to 3 sticks of celery, cut into tiny pieces
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
540 gm (2 cups) tomatoes, blended into a puree
1 tsp brown sugar
175 gm (1/2 cup) corn, cooked
1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp red chili powder or to taste
2 tsp dried parsley or 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt or to taste
200 gm (1 cup) crumbled fresh cheese (paneer cheese)*
Clean, wash and soak the kidney beans overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours. Drain and cook* the kidney beans with 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) water in a pressure cooker. Alternatively use a sauce pan. Reserve the water.
In a saucepan or a wok (I used a Le Creuset buffet casserole dish), heat the oil. Put in the chilies, asafetida and celery sticks and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the chopped bell peppers and cook for a few minutes more until the pepper turn soft.
Put in ground tomatoes and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until the oil separates. Stir in the sugar to balance the tart flavour of the tomatoes. Add the corn, all the spices and the rest of the ingredients.. Cook until the tomato is dry and all the water is absorbed.
Stir in the cooked kidney beans along with the reserved water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in the paneer, mix well and cook for a couple of minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature with plain steamed rice or breads of your choice.
* For detailed instructions to cook rajma, refer to this post!
* To make fresh cheese in a jiffy, refer to this post!
Serves 4 to 6