Walnut-Chocolate Chili

“5 green chillies will give this recipe some chilliness!”

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2 green chillies were found to be woefully lacking for us in this, our first shot at chilli cooking. The shopping seemed straightforward enough, but we did not readily find the right combo of canned beans, so we picked up the 4-bean can that was available at Waitrose. We had Canellini, butter bean, chick pea, kidney bean instead of adzuki, kidney, black eye and borlotti. Parsnip found its way for the first time into our shopping basket. We looked around for 80% cacao, but only found 85% dark Lindt, and happily chucked it into our shopping basket. The basket was weighing down, with the celery, carrot, onion, walnuts and four cans of beans and plum tomatoes.

On the matter of canned beans, I wonder whether canned beans would count as the rules require us to cook from scratch. There should be no problem cooking beans on the spot, a couple of pressure cookers would do the job, but wonder if taste would vary. This is something to try out in our next round of Chili cooking.

Keep a sharp knife at hand – lots of chopping involved in Chilli cooking! Onion, garlic, green chilli, carrot, capsicums, parsnip all need to be finely chopped or minced. You end up with a lovely array of colours at the end of all the hard work of chopping!

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And the finale – Chocolate was mixed in, all 12 squares of dark glory started to dissolve giving out a luscious aroma of molten cacao-ness, taking over the orangey-red colour totally and turning the Chili into a deep clayey mud brown. Contentment!

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Chocolate Chilli

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the perfect food” – nutrition researcher

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Can I do a chocolate chilli? That would be exciting. If Charles can add coffee in his chilli, why can’t I add chocolate? I am assuming I can’t. Well I am really minded to! Who cares about the competition when I can muck about with chocolate! Should I go for 80% or 100% dark? Surely that’s not chocolate, that’s cacao. Is there a ceiling I shouldn’t exceed – I mean calorifically and in the interests of my purse? 🙂

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In a market in Brazil

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The flower that then develops into the pod! Chocolate is alien!

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Coconut and cocoa trees in a farm in South India

Isn’t it a bit weird that inventiveness is not on the list of judging criteria for this competition? Seems a wasted opportunity!

The crucial thing is ‘other ingredients’. ‘The UKCCA deems that “Chilli” is defined as any kind of combination of vegetables, cooked with chilli, spices and other ingredients’. Ah… the dilemmas of interpretation!

Forget interpretation; back to chocolate – Arthur Tuytel…..Fassbender & Rausch

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So, can I really make a Chilli with chocolate in it? Search….

Aztecs? Well, of course!

Oh, here they come – the recipes come in droves! Forget what I said about innovation earlier!

Here is my pick of interesting looking Chilli-with-chocolate recipes

This walnut – chocolate Chilli sounds good. And here is one mouthful of a Chilli – Quick-Fix Vegan’s Smoky Chipotle-chocolate Chili! And this next one, what more could I want? – Cook-off winning veggie chili using chocolate chips!

And a couple more

http://www.korasoi.com/blog/2011/02/black-bean-and-chocolate-chilli

http://cookieandkate.com/2011/sweet-potato-chili-recipe

Ditch them all, why do I need a recipe? Here’s ‘How to make vegetarian Chili without a reicpe‘! This is the only way I am going to get in more than the naam-ke-vaste 2 teaspoons of chocolate! Imagine the fun watching a chunk of chocolate sizzling in oil, mustard seeds, chillies, chana dhal and curry leaves!! Then somehow, at the end of the line, a reddish brown sauce simmering, with chunks of chocolate bobbing up and down, with a chocolatey-chilli fragrance pervading the space! 🙂

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Chocolate from the top!

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Chocolate below!

I have heard of deep fried mars bars and always been nonchalant about it, but to muck about deep frying a mars bar is a different matter altogether! Should look up how they do DFMB! I should also choose my chocolate carefully – it would make all the difference!

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First steps to a vegetarian Chilli

The start of a long weekend and I am kicking it off with some prep for the cook-off.

My family’s cookery wisdom is not going to come to my rescue for the UH chilli cook-off, now I am on my own venturing into Chilli world.

I tell you what, Karela will go very well in a Chilli. I have a gut feeling. The sharp and subtle release of bitterness that a bitter gourd can exude will make for a mature grown-up curry, oops Chilli! What about groundnuts? Just a gut feeling.

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Bitter Gourd

What about this recipe? Click to view video.

best veggie chilli snip

Hmm..I got distracted by the nice filming, especially by the hollowed out capsicum, like how the light comes through from the other side and makes the green body translucent. Light – phenomenal! Don’t like it when it gets all dark inside the pot with that crumble 😦

Not bad, but not exciting to just do the first thing I have come across. Time to get my head down and come up with a plan. If I go anywhere near coriander, or curry leaves, or sambhar powder the judges will put it down as Indian, I think, not Tex-Mex… So time for some help

What about asking Indian Americans? – I don’t mean American Indian, i.e. Indians in America from India. I know just the right people. I’ll write to the internet curry cooks – Anuja and Hetal at Showmethecurry.com. Living in America, they might have come across a chilli cook-off or two and their website is mainly vegetarian. No point asking Kamala’s corner, a superb South Indian cookery website, but that’s it.

Just heard, I am getting sent some veg recipes from Texas, ones that have been tried and tested in office chilli cook-offs!

This is all off to a good start.

Chilli?

I come from a land where dishes have names which are not identical to their ingredients. My average day in the UK is spent eating Sambhar, rasam, idli, dosa, chutney, oothappam, upma, – not chilli, jacket potato or boiled vegetables! So, when I was press ganged by my colleagues at work into a chilli cook-off, my first thoughts were – what the hell is a chilli? An image of a chilli slow-cooked for four hours rose in my mind! Then the thought of horrendously hot dishes of Bhutan welled up, ‘cos they literally contain kilos of chilli in them! Later, a better suggestion came up, Mulaga – bhajji. This is the closest we can think of for a ‘chilli’ which can enter a competition!

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The milagha bhajji

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A ‘vegetarian only’ bhajji stall on Besant Nagar beach in Tamilnadu

None of their infectious excitement rubbed off on me until Charles (of Team Charles) imparted some chilli-gyan. He spoke eloquently about its South-American Spanish-Brazilian origin. Oho! Appadiya! Achcha! Respect! Although it will be respect with two fingers pressing my nostrils down and eyes shut – to cut out the smell and the sight – no prejudice but reflex action to anything non-vegetarian.

I am beginning to have an inkling about chilli. So there is a chilli in the ‘West’, just as there is ‘curry’ in the ‘West’! Perhaps I have got it completely wrong.. but hey, I will soon find out. Well, a chilli cook-off is popular, going by the zeal of the contestants and partakers at the first ever UH edition in Feb 2014.

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Dan Berger surrounded by Team Dan! © Pete Stevens

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Dan the DJ! © Pete Stevens

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John Gunner trying to explain his chilli! © Pete Stevens

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Team Steve with impressive chilli accessories © Pete Stevens

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Team Lukasz © Pete Stevens

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The five chilli cooks – Charles, John, Dan, Steve and Lukasz, and a fan! © Pete Stevens

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The crowd at the NSS chilli cook-off © Pete Stevens

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An estatic team Charles, after being unofficially chosen as the best chilli, sorry Dan! © Pete Stevens

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Team Dan wins the cook-off! © Pete Stevens

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Currently I have no ideas, only the will to take on the challenge. I might end up doing a version of sambhar – the rules will okay a sambhar – maybe add kesari powder to make it ‘reddish-brown’! But how the hell do you have sambhar on its own?!! Madness! It isn’t mulligatawny soup!

On the subject of M-T soup, guess what I found – there is a Hertfordshire speciality of mulagutawny!

160. MULLIGATAWNY SOUP (Hertfordshire)

Fry some onion and carrot in butter till they become a light brown, then add a small piece of apple, some sultanas, coconut, chutney, Harvey’s sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper, a tablespoonful of curry powder, a little curry paste, and about a quarter of a pint of strong stock, and let simmer for about an hour.
And these are other colourful versions of மிளகு தண்ணீர் – ‘pepper-water’! – mulagatoney, mullaghee-tanny, malaca-tawney, malachatauni, malagatany, malakatanni, mulkatany, mullagatawney, mullagatawny, mulligatawney, mullikatauny, mulligatawny, malagatawny

But let’s stick to Mulligatawny, Jeeves old chap!

Chamu Kuppuswamy