... or Nigella over-caters once again.
A common problem with vegetarian versions of established meat dishes is that of texture. Meat substitutes in particular attempt to emulate the texture of meat and it is not something I can truthfully say that I miss (particularly the squeak of mince between the teeth).* However, straight substitutions of pulses or legumes for mince in dishes such as chilli often result in a dish that is too liquid or two lumpy. So, I am happy to present you with a Nigella offering from Feast that circumvents that issue by retaining the traditional red kidney beans and adding in lentils that are cooked without ending up mushy or sloppy. The cornbread topping adds a satisfying crunch and acts as a tasty sop for the juices.
Add chilli to taste when making up this recipe - and remember you can always add more once the chilli has cooked down and before you add the topping. The lack of salt/pepper is surprising but intentional - judge it for yourself, but I found that extra seasoning was unnecessary.
I've halved the original recipe to create something that serves 5-6. I cook it in a shallow casserole that can go from stove to oven and fits everything in neatly (a 25cm Le Creuset buffet casserole dish). You need a relatively big pan for cooking the chilli and then quite a wide (but adequately deep) pan/dish for baking the complete dish.
I'd recommend an accompanying salad of crisp lettuce, spring onion and chopped avocado dressed with lime juice, salt and pepper.
*That said, it's been so long since I've eaten meat that I might now be misremembering the sensation.
Vegetable chilli with a cornbread topping
For the chilli:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large red pepper, finely diced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
0.5 tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp ground cumin
2 small cardamom pods, crushed
150g red lentils
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 400g can red kidney beans
2 tbsps tomato ketchup
2 tbsps tomato puree
0.5 tbsps cocoa
In a large pan, heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and red pepper until soft. Add the chilli, coriander, cumin, and cardamom and stir. Add the lentils and stir again. Add the remainder of the ingredients, stir, and bring to the boil. Simmer the chilli covered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. If the mixture looks too liquid, uncover and cook further.
The chilli can be cooked in advance and kept in the fridge. The cornbread mixture should be made when you are ready to cook it.
For the cornbread:
1 tbsp plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp honey
1 tbsp corn oil
40g cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to GM7/220°C. If you have made the chilli in advance, warm it through to ensure it cooks evenly with the topping.
Mix the dried ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a jug. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix to a batter. Pour/spoon the batter over the chilli. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cornbread topping is golden brown. Allow the chilli to stand for 5 minutes, then serve.