Tonight, I was determined to ignore my intense desire to visit my local Indian restaurant (Taj Bengal in Ashgrove - it's incredible. The best Indian food in Brisbane I've come across), but I wanted something thick, hearty, smoky and delicious - like their famous spinach dhal. I wanted to eat as fast as possible and was looking through Isa Chandra Moskowitz' new book, Isa Does It, and saw an easy recipe for a thai lentil curry that reminded me of a sweet potato lentil chilli by Dreena Burton that I made a million times as new vegan.
You know how it is when you're hungry - you start cooking and chopping to save time before you've even checked the pantry. It wasn't too far in to the process that I realised I had almost nothing I needed to make the/any curry, least of all curry paste or coconut milk (for curry, they're really non-negotiable ingredients)... So I turned this into a mexican chilli, and boy, it was delicious. Fast, easy, minimal mess, and it sure hit the hunger spot. It also reminded me of why I love cooking - the flavours you can achieve at home with minimal effort that you so rarely get when dining out. Sometimes you need a reminder that you can't make something awesome in just as much time as it takes to get in the car and pickup takeaway.
This is thick and "hearty" (gosh I hate that word - why does it always remind me of gross canned soup?) due to the addition of both black beans *and* tofu. I don't feel satisfied with a meal if I'm just eating one or the other - combine them for extraaaaa awessssomeeeneessssss!
Don't be put off by the list of ingredients - this recipe requires minimal effort, but a few spices to make it extra tasty. You're chopping a few things, and pouring/shaking/splashing a few other things in the saucepan. Easy.
One Pot Vegan Mexican-Style Chilli
Preheat a 4 litre (/quart) or larger saucepan/stockpot over medium heat.
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 large red onion, diced
2 red capsicum (bell peppers), chopped
Approx 300g pre-seasoned extra firm/pressed tofu, cubed - I used teriyaki flavour (don't get too hung up on what flavour it is - it'll take on the other flavours of the dish)
1 teaspoon of salt.
Saute for approximately 10 minutes, until the onion is sweet and soft, and the tofu beginning to brown.
1 cup of red lentils, rinsed
2 cans of diced tomatoes (or approx 5 medium tomatoes, diced)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or two large cloves garlic - I realise they're not interchangeable, but I like the different flavour of garlic powder, and I didn't want garlic all over my hands tonight - that's not quick - or fun).
4 cups water
2 cubes vegetable stock (enough or 4 cups of water)
approx 500g sweet potato, sliced and diced into 1 and 1/2 cm wedges
approx 200g potato, prepared as per sweet potato
1 cup of fresh or frozen corn.
2 cups of frozen or canned blackbeans (I have black beans in the freezer at all times, if you're using canned - add them ten minutes or so later, after rinsing, so they don't end up as sludge).
1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons "mexican chilli" powder (I use "Masterfoods" brand. American chilli powders are far, far less spicy than Australian varieties, so add this to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium size zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into half cm half-moons.
a dash of your favourite hot sauce (tabasco chipotle, if you have it!)
Increase heat to high simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so (scraping the bottom to ensure the lentils aren't sticking), until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender and cooked through. Remove lid, taste for seasoning and spice intensity, then cook for an additional 5 minutes (replace the lid, on an angle, if the pot is splashing), to thicken the sauce.
Serve in deep bowls. No need for rice or a grain - this chilli should be thick, like a super-stew. Enjoy!