Chili is a pretty serious mainstay of vegetarian cooking, because it’s so easy to cook with lentils or beans and because it is one of the best comfort foods know to man. I’ve never before made it with TVP though, and the resulting chili sin carne (which means “without meat”, as opposed to the normal “con carne” meaning “with meat”) would be hard for even the more committed of carnivores to turn their nose up at!
The idea of melting a couple of chunks of dark chocolate came equally from my newly-bought and already-loved Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit and my friend James, who has much more patience than me and recently made a meat-included 15 hour version of this. Sugar is often included in chili to enhance the flavour of the tomatoes, but replacing it with good quality dark chocolate brings a heavenly depth to the whole dish and smooths out the harshness of the spices somewhat, turning this from a standard meal into something much more refined!
The key is not to overpower the chili with the chocolate; I find that just a couple of chunks is enough to do it but still leaves people wondering what that “mystery ingredient” is – and leaving you feeling quite nicely smug!
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup TVP
7/8 cup water
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 cup vegetable stock
3 cups diced tomatoes (about a 500ml can)
2 cups kidney beans, drained
2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp chili powder
2 chunks dark chocolate
Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until the onion is browning
While this is happening, place the TVP in a bowl with the water and leave for 5 minutes to rehydrate
Throw the paprika and cumin into the pan, stir well, and add in the TVP
Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add in the vegetable stock, tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato puree and stir well
Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the cinnamon, chili powder and dark chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt
Stir everything together then place the lid on the pan
Cook for at least 30 minutes; if you can leave it up to an hour, the flavours will come together beautifully
For the last 5 minutes of cooking, take the lid off the pan to allow it to reduce
Serve with rice, flatbread or something else delicious
If you don’t drink a glass of good red wine while you’re eating this, then you’re missing out.
This is an absolutely perfect dish to make on a Sunday night to fridge or freeze for the rest of the week. It’s easy to make in larger amounts and in fact the flavour gets even more beautiful as it rests in the fridge. Add in the fact that this is a protein-heavy meal, with the TVP and the kidney beans, and that you can throw in carrots and peppers if you like and you’ve got something to make on a regular basis!