When I returned from Berlin last week, I’d decided that summer was over. September to me means cardigans and jumpers and layers and cups of tea and hot, hot dinners. Unfortunately Edinburgh decided to unleash the summer we hadn’t really had, so all my plans were scuppered. Still, I fancied a super hot dinner – so this recipe was born.
I don’t own a slow cooker. I never have. But there is one in my kitchen at the moment; one leftover by a wonderful friend who came to stay and forgot to take it with her. What better time to discover the joys of a food cooked over a matter of hours instead of a matter of minutes? What better reason to cook the first chilli of the encroaching autumn?
People love slow cookers because they can fill them with ingredients over breakfast, flip the “on” switch as they’re leaving for work, then come home to a beautiful meal after a long day. I love them because the method of cooking allows for flavours to mingle and to affect one another, to settle and enrich each other and become full and satisfying. For this method of cooking, chilli is the perfect recipe; a little sugar lets the tomato flavour come out full force, a little cocoa brings a chocolately overtone to the dish, and the beans end up less gassy, meaning less post-chilli farts. It’s a win-win-win.
This feeds 4-6, depending on what you serve it with, and it’s the sort of recipe that freezes beautifully and stays in the fridge for a week or so with not much trouble. The cinnamon, cocoa, sugar and red wine elevate this to something truly special, so don’t miss them out!
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 scotch bonnet chillies*, diced
1/2 cup red lentils
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper or chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can butter beans (or any other beans), drained
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup veggie stock
A splash of good red wine
*I like my chilli very hot, so this is perfect for me. If you’d like your chilli to have a milder kick, use regular red chillies or just one scotch bonnet.
Place everything into a slow cooker and turn onto medium or high
Cook for 6-10 hours; the longer it goes, the more delicious it is
Serve with sliced avocado and fresh coriander, on top of a baked potato, with brown rice and a squeeze of lime or however else you want to
I love to serve my chilli with avocado; for me, the cold and creaminess provide a nice complement to the hot spiciness of the beans, and a touch of fresh coriander makes the dish. You can also serve with homemade naan or white rice with a squeeze of lime. Keep the leftovers for a baked potato or even a soft taco. The possibilities are endless.
Oh, and don’t forget: You can always add Sriracha.