Recipe: Chilli Sin Carne

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I have recently rediscovered TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) or Soy Mince – a mince substitute that I thought had gone the way of the dodo. I think I first found it in the 90s in a local health food shop. It very much had the whiff of hair shirt and hemp shoes vegetarianism about it then. Other meat substitutes have arrived, notably Quorn, and I thought it would have died out, but no, it’s still hanging on in there in the face of Quorn mince. It also has the advantage in that it’s vegan, which Quorn isn’t.

Having cooked with it I have to say I prefer the texture of TVP and I think it doesn’t make the sauce as runny as the Quorn mince does. TVP does need long cooking though or it’ll be like the dried bits in Pot Noodles, but give it at least an hour and it will pay back any care and attention with a great texture and mouthfeel.

I’ve been fairly conservative in how much heat this chilli packs. Add more chilli powder with the green peppers if you think it needs it.

One ingredient that may surprise you is cocoa powder, a trick I learned in my meat eating days. It adds a background richness to the stew that you can’t identify as being chocolate. I have heard a teaspoon of instant coffee has the same effect, but I’ve never tried it myself.

I also make no claims to the authenticity of this chilli. I leave the Texans and the Mexicans to fight that battle on their own.

Chilli sin carne

Ingredients
50g TVP/soy mince
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 400g tin beans in brine, drained (usually red kidney beans, the version I photoed uses canellini beans)
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp veg stock powder
1 tbsp vegetarian worcester sauce
2 tsp cocoa powder

1 green pepper, diced
fresh chopped coriander to garnish

Soak the TVP in enough boiling water to cover an inch above the granules. Leave for 5 minutes.
Soften the onion, garlic and chilli in a little oil in a pan.
Add the TVP including the water, plus the rest of the ingredients.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stir and leave to simmer for 60 minutes.
Check the seasoning and add more chilli powder if you want it a little hotter.
Add the diced green pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Season with salt & pepper.
Serve on boiled rice, garnished with the coriander.

Serves 4

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