I don’t like to stereotype my people, but I think most of my fellow South-Asians would agree that we love our Tex-Mex. Last year, my husband and I spent a month in the predominantly Hispanic Mission district of San Francisco where there’s a taqueria on every corner, and we would eat burritos 3-4 days a week. We almost got burritos again at the airport before flying back to New
Jersey but decided on principle to get Japanese instead. We regretted the decision later.
In my younger days I associated beans with Taco Bell and (by extension) with junk food, but I had no idea that beans are actually wonderful for you. They are full of resistant starch and fiber
– the kind of carbohydrates that are associated with health-benefits and help you feel full for longer with less calories. One of my favorite recipes is vegetarian chili. A guaranteed a crowd-
pleaser, it appeals even to the most meat-and-potatoes palate. The best part of vegetarian chili? It’s a wonderful way to get people to eat vegetables! It’s also a pretty versatile recipe.
My one request – please don’t ruin it by using hot sauce! Most hot sauce is mostly vinegar, and it really overwhelms the taste. Using it as a condiment later is fine, but I really would not
recommend adding it to the recipe.
I also added optional Indian spices to be used. Although not essential, I can never resist adding these spices into all kinds of dishes. I find that they make it easier to digest the beans. In this particular chili, I used fresh heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market. I just love all the gorgeous colors, shapes and sizes! I also used red Russian kale, pictured below.
The biggest pot you have and a separate sautee pan
5-6 cloves fresh garlic minced
1-2 large onions
1-4 jalapenos depending on how hot you like it. I don’t de-seed them, but you can.
4-6 vine ripened or 2-3 beef-steak tomatoes
4 cans black beans, 2 cans chickpeas or other type of beans, 2 cans white beans or any other type of beans or rough equivalent amount of beans that have been soaked overnight.
2 cans sweet corn or kernels from 2 ears of shucked corn
Desired amount of squash and/or zucchini (usually i use 2 of each) – halved and sliced into thin rounds
Leafy green veggies 2 bunches (usually I use Kale and Chard).
2-3 carrots diced into 0.5-1in cubes
2-3 sticks celery diced into 0.5 to 1in cubes
2 cans of refried black or pinto beans
Cumin powder (i usually grind mine fresh quickly in a mortar and pestle. I find the aroma intoxicating!) 1 heaped tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Chilli powder to taste
1-2 bay leaves
Fresh coriander to use as garnish
Tempering indian spices such as a tsp black mustard seeds, tsp cumin and pinch asoefetida to help with digestion of the beans
Salt to taste
-Heat desired olive oil in the large pot
-Add optional tempering spices at this point. Wait till black mustard seeds start to pop before next step.
-Add chopped garlic and jalapenos. Stir to coat with oil
-When onions are half done(not totally translucent but half way there) add cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, turmeric and stir to coat the onions with the spices
-Add tomato, stir everything together and then cook covered until the peel is comes off the tomato, stirring occasionally
-Once tomato is thoroughly cooked, add all the canned beans, another tsp chilli powder and the cumin powder and cook for a bit, stirring occasionally. You can cook the beans however long you want. I usually clean most of the kitchen at this point.
-In a separate pan, heat oil and sautee squash with 1 tsp whole cumin. Once it is done, add it into the cooking beans.
-add chopped celery and carrots and stir them in
-add greens and push them to the bottom of the chilli so they wilt.
-garnish with scallions and chopped cilantro
While you’re enjoying your vegetable-packed chili, you might be interested to know that beans are a wonderful source of iron (which helps protect against anemia), zinc (which aids enzymes,
including those involved in DNA synthesis and repair), folate (which prevents birth defects during pregnancy, and is much more effective in food form than in folic acid-pill form) and potassium.
Beans count as a serving of both protein and vegetable, so they are a wonderful addition to your diet. They have a lot of resistant starch which makes them a wonderfully low-glycemic
food, meaning they don’t give you a sugar high. That makes you less hungry and less apt to gain weight!
I hope this recipe makes you want to eat your beans!