The Musette: store cupboard vegan chilli

To be honest it was too hot to cook during the recent heatwave in June but we both needed feeding. I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed and go shopping although sitting in the air conditioned car was great. So, I had a ferret in my cupboard and came up with this “chilli.”

Purists will argue that it’s not a chilli however my beloved said that this deep and smoky, dark and dirty vegan chilli recipe was best and the richest he’d ever tasted – praise indeed. The depth of flavour comes from the mushroom powder, but is boosted by untraditional ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, star anise and coffee. You should absolutely leave it gently bubbling away if you have the time. It’s so, so good – you’ll be bowled over by the end result. Feel free to substitute!

Ingredients (serves 6, will stretch to 8 if you serve it with rice)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions finely chopped
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot chopped
  • ½ tsp red chilli paste
  • bunch fresh coriander or parsley (finely chopped including stalks)
  • 1 large red pepper skinned and sliced into strips
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp dried mushroom powder (reduce dried mushrooms to powder in grinder)
  • 2 medium tins chopped tomatoes or large jar passata
  • 1 medium jar chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 medium jar black beans or two husks of fresh corn
  • 2 tbsp strong black coffee

Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • 1 tsp acho chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf


1. Put the dried mushrooms in the grinder and pulse until reduced to a fine powder.

2. Peel and chop the onions and chop the carrot. Peel and mince the garlic. Remove the leaves from the coriander and set aside. Finely chop the stalks. Cut the pepper in half and cut out the stem and seeds and cut into thin slices.

3. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a large saucepan. Once it is hot, add the chopped onions and garlic and cook gently for 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped carrot, finely chopped coriander (or parsley) stalks and the spice mix, and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, making sure you stir constantly so that the spices are well mixed and coat all the vegetables.

4. Add the red pepper slices and tomato purée to give a rich colour and depth of flavour. Pour in the coffee and balsamic vinegar and turn up the heat to high. Stir constantly until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds and the pan is deglazed. Now add the chopped tomatoes (or passata) and the mushroom powder and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is noticeably thicker.

5. Drain the chick peas/beans – don’t forget to save the aquafaba – and take the corn off the husk and add them to the pan. Stir everything together really well and then reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Leave this bubbling away with the lid off, stirring occasionally until it’s reduced to the right thickness (at least 45 minutes). You can leave it bubbling for longer to deepen the flavours, adding more water if needed to keep the right consistency.

6. Taste to check the seasoning adding more salt and pepper or a squeeze or lemon or lime juice as needed. When it’s ready, remove the bay leaf and star anise. Stir the coriander leaves into the chilli and serve with guacamole, sour cream, rice, coleslaw, corn chips, whatever……………………………….you fancy!

7. If there’s any left. Refrigerate once cool, it’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge or in the freezer for a month.


The Musette: Vegetable Chilli

There’s nothing better than a crowd-pleaser when you’re cooking for a lots of people. This is loosely based on Ann Jones’ recipe for Vegetarian Chilli, but makes greater use of vegetables rather than grains. I love bulk cooking which gives me enough for a couple of meals during the week or week-end, and a few to put in the freezer for later. Halve the quantities if you want a more manageable potful. The beauty of dishes like these is that you can use up all sorts of odds and ends from your pantry and fridge. Just remember to have enough different textures in the dish otherwise it’ll taste very samey. Now, I love a bit of heat but, if you don’t, dial back on the amount of chilli (fresh and powder) that’s added.

Ingredients (Serves 10-12 hungry cyclists)

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ancho chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp jalapeno chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 × 400g (14 oz) tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 300g (10 oz) green lentils, washed
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) white wine
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) brewed coffee
  • 1 kg (2 lb) mixed vegetables* (see mix below)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock/water
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


2. Add the chilli powders, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and stir around in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and stir them well into the mix, before adding white wine, and then tomato paste.


3. Now add all the other ingredients (except coffee and any green leaves), including 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Bring pan to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover with greaseproof paper and the lid, simmer gently for at least 40-45 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are cooked. If, the chilli starts to look a bit dry, add further stock or water.

4. You can either season to taste, stir in the green leaves, fish out the cinnamon sticks and star anise then serve, or leave it to go cold and refrigerate over night for serving the following day or two. Add coffee before re-heating and check seasoning again before serving with tortillas, or baked potatoes, or rice, or polenta with maybe a tomato salsa or guacamole – the possibilities are endless! 

The final pictures don’t look too appetising – I really must work on my photography skills – but the end result was delicious – honest!


Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. I use a mix of vegetables to provide a variety of tastes and textures. In this batch I used carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli and chard. I cut the carrots and sweet potatoes into similarly sized pieces, chopped the chard stalks and added those with the rest of the vegetables adding the shredded leaves for adding just before serving and broke the cauliflower and broccoli into similar sized florets. While, most vegetables would work, instinctively I would avoid those such as  sugar-snap peas, leeks and asparagus while embracing sweet corn, peas, artichoke hearts, celery, spinach, swede, parsnip, turnip, beetroot, courgettes (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), and green beans.

2. Feel free to substitute the lentils for other pulses and legumes such as chickpeas, cannellini, black or red kidney beans.

3. You can swap some of the vegetables for mushrooms which add another texture and meaty flavour to the chilli.

4. This will sit happily for 3-4 days in the fridge or the freeze for a month.