Years ago I used to make a chilli dish – the recipe comes from a dear friend who lives in the Grampians. It was a chilli that is often called “Mexican” although it is not, and includes coffee, chocolate and red wine. I gave up making it when I adopted a vegetarian diet. It was only recently that another friend reminded me that chilli without meat is possible – and also delicious.
Elwyn’s Chilli Beans was such a no-fuss recipe – a few essential ingredients cooked at the barely simmering heat level for hours until all was infused with chocolate, coffee, wine and chilli.
The success of a Bean Chilli, with our without meat, is the deep, dark richness of the sauce. I took Elwyn’s recipe and added favourite spices to deepen the flavours, a variety of vegetables to enrich the dish, and some walnuts – I made enough to feed our street! Luckily it freezes very well. It is quite a “meaty” dish with the walnuts adding a great texture.
Because this dish requires long and slow cooking, it can also be cooked at a low-moderate temperature in the oven.
2oo – 250g dried beans – any combination of kidney beans, adzuki beans, turtle beans, black-eyed beans, borlotti beans
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
cooking the beans
1 – 2 dried red chillies, chopped or crushed
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup brewed coffee
60ml red wine or 30ml balsamic vinegar
20g dark cooking chocolate (70%)
1 can tomatoes, chopped or mashed
1 small bunch green coriander, chopped
sea salt, to taste
0.5 tspn cumin powder
1 tspn paprika powder or cayenne pepper, or to taste
0.5 tspn dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick
1 tspn coriander powder
2 bay leaves
2 brown cardamom pods
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red or green capsicum, chopped
2 green jalapeno chillies, sliced
0.5 carrot or 1 small carrot, diced
0.5 parsnip or 1 small parsnip, diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
3 Tblspn olive oil
sour cream or yoghurt
coriander leaves, chopped
rice, soft tortillas or toasted tortillas
Soak the beans overnight. Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Place into a large saucepan with the walnuts and the ingredients listed under cooking the beans. Add water to cover, and bring to a low simmer. Stir in the spices.
While the beans begin to cook, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped vegetables. Saute until they are soft and golden. Add them to the cooking beans.
Place the beans over the lowest heat possible so that they are barely at a simmer. I use a heat diffuser to ensure a low heat. Cook for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally and checking the water levels. Add more water as needed.
When cooked, taste and adjust seasonings – chilli, salt and black pepper. Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves, with guacamole, sour cream, lime wedges and rice or tortillas.
I like to add 6 juniper berries, 3 allspice berries, 4 cloves and 0.5 tspn turmeric to the stock to help achieve the deep flavour that defines this dish.
If you have some Special Miso Sauce in your freezer, add a Tblspn to the beans as they are cooking.
The dish can be made with just kidney beans or borlotti beans if that is your preference.
We are used to finding cardamom pods and pepper corns etc in our food and don’t mind them. If you are less comfortable, simmer the whole spices in water with a little ghee for 20 or so mins and use the spiced water for cooking the beans.