On Saturday it was my turn to host the friend’s dinner evening get together that my friends and I take it in turns to host every month. One of my friends informed me that at the moment she is avoiding eating potatoes, rice, raw dairy and anything citrus, this along with the meal having to be vegetarian and gluten free meant it was rather a challenge trying to figure out a meal we could all eat. There were only going to be three of us at the dinner, so I didn’t really want to start making multiple dishes.
After running through a few ideas I suddenly remembered a bean chilli I had made a few months back and amazingly it suited all our dietary requirements – hurrah! I decided to serve it corn tortilla chips which we used to scoop up and eat the chilli. This did away with the need for cutlery which made for a fun and informal dinner. The chilli also tastes good topped with a little sour cream, avocado and coriander, but I find it’s best to serve these separately and let the guests help themselves as not everyone likes these.
The chilli contained lots of veggies and three different varieties of beans simmered together in a spicy smoky chili and tomato sauce. It also contained a secret ingredient – a little cocoa powder! This may sound odd at first but the cocoa powder adds a wonderful depth and richness to the dish as well as a deep earthy brown colour, without adding any chocolate flavour. This is actually quite traditional in Spanish and Mexican cuisine and these types of dishes can often be referred to as Moles.
Moles (pronounced Mo-Lay) come in a variety of flavours depending on the ingredients used. It is rumoured that they were originally created by nuns as a way of using up leftovers and often consisted of chili’s, spices, stale bread, nuts and chocolate. Mole poblano is one of the most famous and is a dark red brown sauce containing chilis and chocolate which is often served over meat – although in my case lots of beans!
I’ve never had an authentic Mole, but my concoction was delicious and just what was called for on a dark cold winter evening. Rich, thick and spicy with the salty crunch for the corn tortilla chips it was very hearty and comforting. The chili and spices warming us up from the inside out. You can make it as spicy as you like but personally I enjoy it with a bit of a kick. As an added bonus the dish actually tastes better if allowed to sit for a few hours or even overnight to allow all the spices and flavours to mingle and develop. This means you can prepare it in advance and are free to enjoy the time with your guests without any manic last minute cooking required, which is always a bonus.
Spicy Mole 3 Bean Chilli
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
400g can kidney beans
400g can black eyed beans
400g can Auzaki beans
1 red chili
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
1 large carrot
2 large mushrooms
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 red pepper
½ small can (100g) sweetcorn
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground chillies
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Dollop of sour cream
Corn tortilla chips (check your brand as some also contain wheat flour)
Slice the onion, carrot, mushrooms and red pepper into a small dice. Finely chop the garlic and red chili (seeds and all if you like it hot).
In a large saucepan heat the oil and sweat the onion, garlic and carrot until beginning to soften but it still with some bite.
Add the red pepper, chilli, cumin, paprika, ground chilli and cayenne.
Drain the tins of beans and add to pan along with the sweetcorn. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato puree. Season a little pepper.
Bring the mix to a boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to bubble and reduce for 20-30 minutes.
Mix the cocoa powder with a little hot water to form a thin paste. Stir into the chilli.
Cook for 5 minutes more before serving. To Serve
Top with the sour cream, avocado and coriander if desired. Serve with corn tortilla chips and use them to scoop up and eat the chilli.