Beetroot and Bean Chilli

Beetroot and Bean Chilli

I conceived this recipe after finding an old, slightly wrinkled beetroot lurking in my fridge. Not the most inspiring thing, but I reckoned it would be perfect for some kind of stew or casserole. This is based on a fairly standard bean chilli with kidney beans and chickpeas. The addition of beetroot gives it an earthy sweetness and an amazingly vibrant colour.

Frying the beans and chickpeas in a separate pan before adding to the chilli is an essential part of this recipe. The caramelisation of the protein-rich pulses brings a deep savouriness that would otherwise be missing in a vegetable-based meal. As with many casserole-style dishes, this one is better when left to rest overnight and allow the flavours to mature. If you have time, I would highly recommend this.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or sliced
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp carraway seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 100 g chorizo (optional)
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • ½ lime, deseeded and chopped
  • olive oil, for frying
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • white wine vinegar, for seasoning
  1. To get the most flavour from this recipe, you should fry the kidney beans and chickpeas separately before adding to the rest of the chilli. Because they will be wet, it's best to use a large pan or casserole with a lid to avoid oil spitting all over your kitchen. If you don't have a lid you can use a piece of kitchen foil or greaseproof paper.

  2. Open the chickpeas and kidney beans and drain in a colander. Shake to remove as much excess water as possible. Place your pan or casserole over a high heat and add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is very hot, add the beans and chickpeas along with a generous two-finger-and-thumb pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper (if your pan is too small to fit them comfortably in one layer, do them in batches). Stir once, then partially cover with a lid to prevent oil spitting overywhere, and fry for around 5 minutes until lightly caramelised. Stir only two or three times – stirring too much will cool the beans down and prevent them from caramelising properly. Remove from the pan and set aside. You can use the same pan, including any leftover oil and tasty residue from the beans, to cook the rest of the chilli.

  3. Prepare the spices: measure out the paprika, cumin, carraway seeds and chilli powder into a small bowl or container and set aside.

  4. Roughly chop the onion, carrots, beetroot, celery and red pepper into approx 5 mm pieces. Keep the different vegetables separate, and set aside. Place your pan or casserole over a medium heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, in about 30 seconds, add the onion, celery and garlic along with a two-finger-and-thumb pinch of salt. Stir, then fry gently for about 10 minutes, until soft and sweet.

  5. Add the chopped carrots, beetroot, green chillies and red pepper, the spices you measured out earlier and another generous two-finger-and-thumb pinch of salt. Turn the heat up to high, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the caramelised beans and chickpeas and the tin of chopped tomatoes. Rinse the tin of tomatoes out with a splash of water and add that too. Crumble in the vegetable stock cube and 200 ml of water. Give everything a good stir, then taste. Add more salt if you think it needs it. Turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little more water if it becomes dry. If using chorizo, add this about 5 minutes before the end. Finally taste and add more salt if needed, and add 1 - 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Garnish with the chopped lime and chopped coriander.