What can be better than huddling by the fireplace on a night so cold that the roofs and sidewalks are still blanketed in two-days-old snow and even my cold-seeking pooch refuses to step outside for a walk? Huddling by the fireplace with a bowl of my belly-warming Chipotle and Cumin Spiced Vegan Chili, of course.
Things have been rather unadventurous in my kitchen of late, because I am cooking now not just for Desi and me but for Jay, our six-year-old who eyes any food that's not dal and rice with pure terror. After cooking almost every dal recipe I could think of over the last two months, interspersed with some pasta and sandwiches and noodles (reception lukewarm to cold), I decided to test Jay's tastebuds last night with this moderately hot but complex vegan chili.
Because Jay has never eaten meat before, I was a little unsure about how he'd respond to a meat substitute in the food: I used Field Roast's Mexican Chipotle grain sausage. I also added a vegetable that Desi and I love and which is almost always in our refrigerator, but one that Jay, again, eyes with fear: mushrooms. I threw in some carrots, a bell pepper, onions and tomatoes, and kidney beans for a bigger protein bang. As the chili simmered on the stove, fiery red from the smoked paprika and chipotle and flecked with the pretty oranges, greens and yellows of the carrots, coriander and bell peppers, I wondered if I was about to launch on another night of Jay chewing over his food slowly with a sullen look on his face, me getting angrier by the minute, and all of us spending a frustrating hour at the dinner table.
It was not to be. The little critic actually polished off the chili without a wrinkle on his face, and surprised me by declaring: "Good!" Just as rewarding-- it took me only about an hour to get this red-hot chili from scratch to the table.
Next, your turn.
Chipotle and Cumin Spiced Chili
- 1 ½ cups dry red kidney beans, soaked overnight then pressure cooked or boiled until really tender
- 1 package Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausage (4 pieces) run through a food processor until it has broken down to a coarse, grainy texture, the size of TVP granules. If you can't get this brand, use around 1 pound of any vegan sausage and add 1 chipotle chili with 1 tbsp of the sauce instead
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 8 ounces of crimini or button mushrooms, minced
- 1 large carrot, minced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, minced
- 1 large tomato, pureed
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp dry rosemary
- 1 cup fresh coriander leaves or cilantro, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil. When it shimmers, add the onions and garlic.
- Add a pinch of salt and saute on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to just brown.
- Add the mushrooms, sausage, cumin powder and coriander powder. Stir well and cook about five minutes, stirring at regular intervals.
- Add the cumin and coriander powders and smoked paprika. Stir to mix. Add the tomato puree and dry herbs along with the carrots and bell peppers.
- Add the beans and stir well, then add some water if the chili is too dry. Bring to a boil. Add coriander leaves. Cover and simmer on the lowest heat setting for 30 minutes so the vegetables are well cooked and the flavors have melded together.
- Add salt to taste. Serve hot with some crusty bread or rice.
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