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Sumptuously Warming

We have survived two incredibly strong storms over the past few weeks and I'm really hoping that spring is going to creep on out soon because I'm not sure how much more of this cold weather I'm willing to take. At least we can make hearty, warming, healthy food to help us through this late winter.

I'm still bulk cooking things for the freezer - by the time I'm finished, I probably won't have to cook for a full month (hopefully longer) after baby is born. In a weird way I find this incredibly exciting. The thought of just going to to the freezer and defrosting something healthy, nutritious and home made for two very tired new parents gives me a massive sense of achievement. Have I told you about my list?

I made a list of ALL of the meals that I want to stock my new chest freezer with and I'm only really halfway through it. I think much of my maternity leave is going to be spent batch cooking - and you know what? I'm so ok with that.

One of the meals on my list was a vegetable chilli. I never, ever, ever order a veggie chilli when I'm out because it's always too sweet. The vegetables that people use tend to be peppers, carrots, sweetcorn... all with a relatively sweet taste to them. As a meat eater, I like my chilli to be savoury and warming and hearty, not sweet.

So I did a bit of recipe testing and came up with a chilli that I think any meat eater would struggle to miss the carne in. It's savoury, filling, more-ish and so warming. And, actually, full of goodness. I will say that I wanted to use sweet potato but the only ones my local fruit and veg shop had were purple sweet potatoes so I used them and they gave the chilli such a deep, rich colour that is hard to replicate with anything else. The regular orange ones we normally get would work just as well but for this recipe, if you can get purple ones, go with it!

Savoury Vegetable Chilli

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 4 aubergines, diced

  • 2 tins red kidney beans, rinsed

  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 2 white onions, diced

  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp chilli flakes (more if you like it very spicy)

  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes

  • Salt to taste

  • Oil for frying

  • Sour cream and lime to serve

This recipe does take quite a bit of oil because you need to cook the aubergines before you add them to the chilli - I fried them but you could equally roast them on a relatively high heat for 40 mins with plenty of oil.

I poured enough sunflower oil into a frying pan to shallow fry the aubergines, flipping them every so often so the each side goes a nice golden brown - do this in batches because the oil will spit if you over crowd the pan.

Drain your aubergines on a tray lined generously with kitchen paper to absorb all the excess oil. Take a tbsp of oil that you fried the aubergines in and add it to a large saucepan. Turn on the heat and use this to fry the onions and garlic until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant. Add your spices and mix everything well so that it almost becomes a paste.

Add your diced sweet potato and the kidney beans and mix everything in well so that there is a nice coating of spices all over. At the tinned tomatoes and aubergine, give it all a mix up and then simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. I also added water to each (empty) tomato tin, swirled it around and added it to the pot. Stir your pot intermittently while it cooks to distribute flavour and stop anything from sticking to the bottom.

Once everything is cooked, leave it to sit for at least an hour (overnight is better) to let the flavours develop. Heat it through so that everything is hot to serve. Serve with rice or cornbread, a juicy lime and a good dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with parsley or coriander once plated up.

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