An easy and comforting meal
On a cold day there is nothing more comforting than the aroma of Mexican-inspired chilli welcoming you into the kitchen. Not only is chilli con carne and its vegetarian counterpart a comfort food—simple, satisfying and easy to make—but it also provides so many nutrients that it’s a must for everyone to cook.
The common ingredients in most chillis are beans, tomatoes, chillis (fresh, dried or powdered), onions, garlic and cumin. From that simple base, there are countless variations depending on personal taste, dietary preferences and geographical differences.
Cooking dried beans
The flavour of cooked dried beans always seems fresher than that of beans in tins, and their texture also seems more pleasing. If a few easy steps are followed, they are easy to prepare, are cheaper than tins and allow you to control the sodium content.
The benefits of beans
Beans are an excellent source of fibre, providing an average of 6 g of fibre per 1/2 cup (125 ml). Both insoluble and soluble fibre are present, which may help to lower cholesterol, improve glucose control and prevent colon cancer and diverticular disease.
Furthermore, beans generally contain no cholesterol, are low in fat and are high in vitamins and minerals such as folate, thiamine, manganese, iron and magnesium. They are also a good source of lean protein.
Tip: chilli cooking and storage
Ideally, chilli should be made one day ahead to let the flavours develop further. Chillis are usually made in large quantities, as they can be frozen for up to three months and defrosted in the refrigerator before heating.
Garnishes can go under, over, on the side ... there are no rules!
All chillis can be served with one or more of the following side dishes as garnishes:
You can also use side dishes to change the degree of spiciness (heat) in your chilli. If it is hot, you can cut up some fresh capsicums that will help bring it down a notch. Conversely, you can add jalapeños or crushed chillis if you want to increase the heat.
Beans can be substituted for one another in recipes according to preferences. It will slightly affect the flavour of the chilli, but the nutritional content will remain high.
Meat can be added to or removed from chilli without jeopardising the flavours. If you use cooked meat, make sure it is added with the beans and not at the beginning of the recipe as you would with uncooked meat.