Wednesday, March 07, 2007

chili and the dish that had no name

Today, I bring you two recipes. One is for a wonderful chili that will surprise your tastebuds and the other is for a vegan Iranian dish that, sadly, has no name! But you'll love it nonetheless.

Daiku's Sweet 'n Smoky Chipotle Chile

Chili is a great meal that can be prepared quickly. We love to experiment with flavors and ingredients. One thing we usually don't include is t.v.p., since the taste and texture are not among Daiku's favorites. This week, Daiku made this chili, sweetened with just a hint of raisins and molasses to offset the spicy, smoky chipotle heat. The flavors play off each other superbly-- not too sweet, not too hot, just right. You couldn't get much healthier or more filling than this, and all in under 30 minutes.


olive oil
1 TB cumin
1.5 TB chili powder
black pepper to taste

1 medium onion, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced

1 15 oz. can diced tomato
1/2-3/4 cup frozen corn

1 28 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
water, as needed

handful chopped cilantro (we used frozen)
handful raisins
2 TB molasses

1/4 cup refried bean mix


Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add cumin and chili powder to toast and bring out flavors. Sprinkle in some freshly cracked black pepper.

Add in the onion, chipotle pepper, and carrots, and sautee until softened slightly, or around 5 minutes. Add corn and tomatoes.

Add beans and as much water as needed to get the desired chili consistency. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

When the chili has warmed through and the flavors are melding, add cilantro, raisins, and molasses. We don't often have fresh cilantro available, so when we get a good bunch, we puree some of it with water and salt and store in the freezer. For recipes like this, we break of chunks of the frozen puree, but of course if you have fresh cilantro, use it.

In the final moments of cooking, add in about 1/4 cup of dried refried bean mix and water, enough to thicken the chili to your preferred consistency. Dried refried bean mix is one of those time-savers in the kitchen- you can reconstitute some for a quick lunch burrito, or use it to thicken and flavor chilis and other bean dishes. It is a completely natural product, and we buy it from the bulk bins in our food co-op.

Garnish with avocados, soy sour cream, fresh cilantro, and/or oyster crackers to serve. Enjoy!

* * *

Next, I bring you another vegan Iranian recipe. If you are thinking that I've been eating a lot of eggplants lately, you are right! I found a super deal on organic eggplants at the market- one of those great moments when the organic produce looks better and even has a better price than its conventionally grown counterpart. So I bought 2 big ones and now you get my unending string of eggplant recipes! Did you know that eggplants are great for your skin and help to counteract the signs of aging? Maybe I've subconsciously been gobbling them up because I have a birthday coming up... sigh.

So here's an Iranian dish that is naturally vegan. After my mom finished describing it to me and giving me detailed instructions on how to make it, I said, "that's great! what is it called?" We were both surprised when my mom couldn't remember! So either this dish has no name, or we are being forgetful!

That Iranian Dish That Kinda Reminds You of Baba Ganouj


1 cup raw walnuts
1 clove garlic (2 or more if you're brave and don't have to go to work or school the next day!)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2-1 tsp. angelica powder (click here for a previous post where I describe angelica and show a photo of it)
water, as needed

1 large eggplant
salt and pepper to taste


To make walnut paste, combine walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and angelica in a food processor (or the magic bullet!). Add enough water to make it into a thick paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this stage, you can store the paste, covered, in the refrigerator. The flavor will only improve.

To make the eggplant, you can roast it, but to get a truly smoky flavor, it is best to broil it, or even better, charbroil it. This is where it comes in handy to have a gas stove, but the clean-up is a bit of a drawback! If you like eggplant as much as I do though, the smell of its skin being charred to a smoky crisp is like heaven. I put it over a medium flame and cooked each side until the skin was burned to a crisp. I then tilted it so the end was also cooked. (You might have to finish the eggplant off with a couple of minutes in the microwave depending on the thickness of your particular eggplant.)

Let the eggplant rest. When it is cooled off, the burned skin will come off easily.

Mash up the eggplant and mix with the walnut paste. Add salt and pepper and a final squeeze of lemon juice.

The basic walnut paste is a base to many Iranian recipes. There are many variations, using ingredients such as pomegranate juice or molasses, olives, bitter orange, cinnamon, etc. but the angelica is absolutely essential. It is a great master recipe to have in your repertoire, and can also serve as a dip or sandwich spread.

Traditionally, this eggplant dish is eaten as a condiment or side, but we made it the focal point of our dinner, served with brown basmati rice and a side of steamed Chinese broccoli. I am still trying to perfect the brown rice pilaf technique, and will share it with you once I have it.




Melody said...

I love the new looks of your blog! The pics are amazing.... now, I am off to find a source for the Angelica powder... I love learning new things from your blogs!

KathyF said...

I have a birthday coming up...must make more eggplant!

(I was hoping one would come in the box, despite the fact it's hopelessly out of season.) I guess I'll have to get one from Tanzania or somewhere.

PS I love the new look!

SusanV said...

Oh wow. The chili looks great, but I'm craving that eggplant. As someone who could live on baba ganouj, I will definitely be making this soon!

scottishvegan said...

Wow! The blog and the food all look great! I have never seen angelica powder, but you reminded me about crystallised angelica that I remember eating when I was a kid. I loved it! I don’t know if the powder tastes similar or not?

Emmy said...

Ooooh, the chili looks delish. I know Rob is going to want me to make that. I'm with Daiku on not putting tvp or boca ground in chili. "Meat Soup" real or fake bothers me (add that to my picky list. LOL). Rob on the other hand will eat any type of vegan chili.

That's great you're on an eggplant bender...I love eggplant!!! The no-name dish sounds wonderful. Your dinner looks so tasty. YUM!

When's your birthday?

theONLYtania said...

Haha aw man your blog looks so great now. I'm jealous.. don't be surprised if mine starts to get some sprucing up. I'm loving these posts too! That is a unique looking chili that I might be interested in, and I've never used eggplant but maybe I will. I'm definitely intrigued..

aTxVegn said...

Daiku's chili recipe looks fantastic with that sweet touch in it to offset the spice. The eggplant dish sounds kinda like a pate. The one time I made baba ganoush, I put a whole eggplant on the barbecue grill for about an hour - great flavor!

Brooke said...

I think I might go buy some eggplant and just smear it on my face...will that help offset the aging process??? :-)

That chili sounds freakin' fantastic. Numnumnumnum.

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

The eggplant dish looks and sound awesome - kudos to you!
I also really like that you put chickpeas in your chili, I've yet to do that, but always think about it.

Kati said...

Chickpeas in chili sounds like a fabulous idea. Too bad I'm staying away from tomatoes these days...and other nightshade veggies (stomach acid blah blah). Way to taunt me with yummy pictures of things I can't have! :P

For some reason, that walnut paste really intrigues me. I'd be curious to know what other kind of dishes you would use it in.

Urban Vegan said...

They look mouth-watering. I'll have to try these.

I have a name for the nameless dish:
Bazu Ganouj

Susan said...

Chili with raisins and molasses? Brilliant! I love the interplay between the sweet flavors and the heat in your recipe. Thanks for a new chili recipe--I needed one!

And excellent new format! It's crisp and clean, like spring.;)

springsandwells said...

Happy Pre-Birthday!

Those recipes look a-m-a-z-i-n-g! I can't wait to try them. Especially the Iranian recipe - you know I'm crazy for Persian recipes!

laura jesser said...

Wow, Bazu! The chili and the baba ganouj type substance both sound amazing... I love my chili recipe but I may have to deviate and try yours.

Sorry I've been absent.... I got crazy busy last week and haven't been cooking or reading blogs or anything much. But I love your new look--it's very appealing. Hopefully I'll be catching up more soon!

Anonymous said...

wow two recipes in one post! thanks so much

b36Kitchen said...

your new look is so fresh and clean! I really love it. I'm not a big eggplant fan. I only really like it if it's mushed up so this version is right up my alley!


Courtney said...

AH! Thank you immensely for the eggplant recipe. I've been looking for it for two years but even my Iranian uncle couldn't name it and couldn't tell me how to cook it. I love love love it.

vko said...

Thank you for loving eggplant! I love eggplant too. Everything in this post is so right up my alley. Will have to devote some time to make your chili & what urban has brilliantly termed bazu ganouj. I am going to give that eggplant over the stovetop a go and of course, have my method spray in hand ready to clean as I go.

Oh, can smell that smoky eggplant already. Thanks for sharing that!