I've been experimenting with vegan chillies for years now - making loads of little tweaks and improvements each time, taking inspiration from several other recipes - and I'm proud to say this is definitely the best one yet.... It's a rich, deep chilli with a good spicy kick and complex flavours that rivals any meat-based chilli. The quantities in this recipe makes 8 servings, so use your biggest pan and freeze any leftovers - as with many dishes, the flavours actually become even more infused once defrosted and reheated. And check out the nutrition info below - one serving of this chilli with rice gets you close to half your daily needs for protein and iron, and all with less than a gram of saturated fat!
The Ultimate Vegan Chilli
Ingredients (serves 8):
2 Tbsp rapeseed oil
1 large (or 2 small) white onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 heaped Tbsp chipotle paste
2 tins good quality chopped tomatoes
300g dried puy lentils
100g bulgar wheat
1 x 400g tin of black beans
150ml red wine
1-2 litres vegetable stock
1 heaped Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp date syrup / black treacle
A pinch of salt and loads of black pepper
Fry the onion and red pepper in the rapeseed oil over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, and fresh chilli and continue frying for a further 2-3 minutes. Then add the dry spices and fry for a further 1-2 minutes to release their flavours, stirring continuously.
Now simply add all the remaining ingredients, but starting with just 1 litre of the stock, keeping the rest handy in case the chilli needs extra liquid. Simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender, most of the liquid has absorbed, and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.
The trick to take this chilli from a 9/10 to a 10/10 is to now remove just a couple of ladles of the chilli to blitz in a blender into a kind of sauce, then return this back to the pot - this gives the chilli a thick, rich consistency and helps to infuse the flavours even further. I like to serve with rice or just some warm crusty bread, any kind of dark green vegetable, and a dollop of avocado mashed with a squeeze of lime to help cool your mouth!
Nutrition (per serving with 60g uncooked weight of rice):
Protein: 22.1g (Women: 44.2% / Men: 40.2%)
Iron: 6.1mg (Women: 41.2% / Men: 70.1%)
Calories: 555 (Women: 27.8% / Men: 22.2%)
Sugars: 9.7g (Women: 10.8% / Men: 8.1%)
Total Fats: 6.1g (Women: 8.7% / Men: 6.4%)
Saturated Fats: 0.9g (Women: 4.5% / Men: 3.0%)
Salt: 0.9g (Women: 15.0% / Men: 15.0%)
Fibre: 15.5g (Women: 51.7% / Men: 51.7%)
See the Nutrition Info page for more details on % of Dietary Reference Values for men and women.