Let’s review a feel-good dish that will warm up the heart, body and the soul.
Chili con Carne
This simply means chili with meat. It is a spicy stew made using chili peppers and meat. Traditionally, it was made using chili peppers, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included. This dish is so popular in North America, that it is simply referred to as “Chili”.
When it’s cold, a bowl of chili con carne is a good comfort food. I have modified the recipe below to accommodate the tolerance of chili for the average Kenyan palate. Feel free to adjust it.
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, cubed fine
1 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp hot chili powder (or ½ tsp for a milder version)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
500g lean minced beef
1 beef stock cube
400g can chopped tomatoes
½ tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g can red kidney beans
Place a pan on the stove over a medium heat. Add the oil and leave for 1-2 minutes until hot (a little longer for an electric stove).
Add the onions, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, squidgy and slightly translucent.
Add garlic, red pepper, chilli powder, paprika and cumin.
Stir, leave to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn up the heat, add meat and spread it using a spoon or spatula.
Add the mince. Keep stirring for at least 5 minutes, until the mince is browned and separated.
Crumble the beef stock cube into 300ml hot water. Pour mixture into pan with the mince mixture.
Add the tinned tomatoes, dried marjoram and sugar
Season with a good shake of salt and pepper.
Add 2 tbsp tomato purée and stir.
Boil, give it a good stir and cover. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for 20 minutes. Stir the chili occasionally to ensure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan or doesn’t dry out. If it does, add a couple of tablespoons of water and turn the heat really low. The saucy mince mixture should look thick, moist, and juicy.
Drain and rinse the can of red kidney beans in a sieve and stir them into the chili pot.
Bring to the boil again, and gently bubble without the lid for another 10 minutes, adding a little more water if it looks too dry.
Replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chili to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with sour cream and plain boiled long grain rice.
Add some chocolate
You’re probably wondering who adds chocolate to a chili dish. Don’t dismiss it until you have tried it.
The chocolate chili connection is an ancient Aztec concoction. Aztecs associated chocolate with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility.
Chocolate was added to a bitter, spicy drink called xocolâtl, often seasoned with vanilla, chili pepper, and achiote (or annatto). Xocolâtl was believed to fight fatigue, a belief that is probably attributed to the theobromine (a chemical similar to caffeine) content.
Rather than add the teaspoon of sugar to your chili, you can stir in a small piece of chocolate (about the size of your thumbnail) when you add the beans. Any plain dark chocolate will do. Be careful not to add too much - you don’t want your guests to identify the chocolate flavour.