I am definitely in the mood for spice at the moment, I have been cooking up Chinese, Thai and Indian food non-stop. So last night I decided to go to the other side of the world and try my hand at that Tex-Mex classic Chili Con Carne, only it was Tuesday and I didn’t feel like eating meat. So I made Chili Sin Carne instead! It was delicious, except that I added far too many green chilies onto my plat (thankfully not to Louis’ or Chris’) which kind of blasted my taste buds too pieces! Note to self, just because the red ones were really weak doesn’t mean that the green ones were too!!! My chili guy at Lézignan market sells chilies that vary in heat to an extraordinary level every week despite looking the same! I never know whether I need to add 5 whole chilies or just one or two slices!

Here is my recipe, we ate it all between the three of us with one tortilla each, bar a very silly amount. However if you are serving with rice it will serve four.

Chili Sin Carne – feeds 3 hungry people!


1/2 medium onion finely diced

2 large gloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, diced

1 stick of celery, diced

1 small leek, diced

400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

400g bottle of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

250g bottle of sweetcorn, drained

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder (depends on the strength and your preference in heat)

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cinnamon powder

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato purée 

3 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

50 g dark (70%) chocolate

1 tbsp Olive oil

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh coriander, avocado, crème fraîche and fresh red and green chilies to serve


  1. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the oil and gently fry the onion until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the garlic and soften for a minute and then add the spices and oregano.
  3. Now add the carrots, celery and leeks and fry until soft.
  4. Add the chickpeas and coat in the spices.
  5. Add the kidney beans and tin of tomatoes, stir to coat thoroughly.
  6. Fill the tomato tin with water and add to the pan.
  7. Add the corn, tomato purée, season with salt and pepper and add a couple of bay leaves to the pan, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened and the spices have amalgamated.
  8. Add the chocolate to the pan, and more water if needed.
  9. Taste and adjust spices and seasoning as needed. If it needs richness add more cumin and chocolate, herbs add oregano and spice chili powder and paprika.
  10. Mix in a handful of chopped coriander and serve.
  11. I served with crisp tortilla shells ( I made soft tortillas and then lightly rubbed them with oil, put them over two rungs of the oven try and baked in the hot oven for 10 minutes to crisp up), chopped coriander, sliced avocado, crème fraîche and extra chilies.

Note: Many people use lentils but I feel that it makes it too gloopy and heavy. Black beans would have been good, but they are hard to find here. Chickpeas and sweetcorn in the bocal are more expensive than the tinned versions, but the quality is superior as is the firmer texture. Of course cooking dried beans yourself is always better and cheaper, but you need to have thought about it in advance! The beauty of this recipe is that it took an hour all in, unlike the meat version which is generally better cooked the day before. Fresh corn is not available in January and is hard to get in the summer in the south of France but if you can get it where you are then add it at the same time as the chickpeas. I used a dollop of crème fraîche to cool it down, this is obviously optional and if I had a non-dairy alternative I would have used that and then it would be vegan!