Chili con carne

17 March 2010


I’ve used black beans instead of kidney beans in this fiery chili con carne to suit my very personal taste; I am not too keen on big fleshy beans. Also the black beans have a slightly sweet and, I find, an almost smoky flavor. The small amount of lentils give the chili more flavor and also soak up any excess liquid.

I like this hot, deseeding the habanero will not take away the heat at all, since the capsaicin sits in the white flesh of the habanero fruits.

Chili con carne

  • 250g minced meat (pork and beef)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 reddish-green bell pepper, chopped into strips
  • 2 big tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 75g dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric
  • 25g red lentils
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 twig of thyme
  • 1/2 habanero chili or 3 dried bird’s eye chilis
  • 100-150g water
  • sea salt
  • vegetable oil
  • splash of olive oil
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 25g good quality dark chocolate, chopped (optional)
Cook the black beans together with the tumeric and a teaspoon of salt in about 1.5 litres of water.This takes about 60-120 minutes depending on the beans. Drain.

Put cumin, coriander and pepper into a mortar and grind it to a medium-coarse spice blend.

Put a large pan on highest heat and add the vegetable oil so the bottom of the pan is just coated. Just as it starts to smoke, add the chopped pepper and onions. Leave for a while then give it a stir. When you smell the roasting aromas of the onions, add the meat and let it sizzle still on highest heat until the bottom of the meat ball is quite dark. After two more minutes break up the minced meat and stir everything together.

Add the tomatoes, some salt, the garlic, the thyme,the chilsi and some (if not all) of the spice blend to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer until tomatoes start to fall apart and get all mushy. Add about 100g water, the black beans and the red lentils and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until lentils are soft. Remove thyme and add a splash of olive oil and lemon juice.

For a creamy finish, add the chopped cocolate before serving. Good with a spoon of sour cream and/or crusty bread.


This is perfect for a large number of guests and you can make it in advance. If you can’t get fresh bustards, chicken is fine, but you might want to increase the number of dates to 600 as it is a dry meat.

Stuffed camel

  • 500 dates
  • 200 plover eggs
  • 20 two-pound carp
  • 4 bustards, cleaned and plucked
  • 2 sheep
  • 1 large camel
  • Seasoning

“Dig trench. Reduce inferno to hot coals, three feet in depth. Separately hard-cook eggs. Scale carp and stuff with shelled eggs and dates. Season bustards and stuff with stuffed carp. Stuff stuffed bustards into sheep and stuffed sheep into camel. Singe camel. Then wrap in leaves of doum palm and bury in pit. Bake 2 days. Serve with rice.
Serves 400”

Source: T.C. Boyle: Water music