This whole meal actually only came about because I found a forgotten box of carob powder in the cupboard…
It was bought a couple of months ago with the intention of using it in some sort of cake, but as I tend to, I put it away and forgot about it. But yesterday I was wondering what to make for work lunches this week, and hit upon the idea of using the carob powder to add richness to a bean chilli, much as you can use cocoa powder. It really does work well, and combined with all the herbs and spices makes a gorgeous sauce for the beans and vegetables.
To go with such a lovely rich stew you need a fresh and zesty vegetable accompaniment. So here I’ve lightly pickled cabbage and sweetcorn kernels in vinegar and lime juice, adding mint leaves at the end.
serves 4 to 8 depending on whether you serve other accompaniments such as rice
for the kidney bean carob chilli
350 g kidney beans, soaked overnight
700 ml water
1 leek, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 apple, cored and chopped
175 g mushrooms, sliced
500 g passata
1 tbsp liquid smoke or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dried wild garlic (ramsons), or 1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp carob powder
2 fresh red chillies, chopped (or to taste)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp fresh coriander
for the pickled cabbage, sweetcorn and mint salad
130 g savoy cabbage, shredded
150 g sweetcorn (I used some from a tin)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
150 ml water
about 30 smallish mint leaves
Put the kidney beans and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry pan, then grind using a pestle and mortar or electric grinder.
Add the spices and all the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper and fresh coriander to the kidney beans (save a little chilli for garnish if you like).
Bring to a simmer and then cook, partially covered for 45 minutes. Check the liquid levels after 30 minutes, you may need to add a little more water, but the sauce should end up nice and thick.
When the time is up the kidney beans should be tender, the vegetables cooked through, and the sauce thickened nicely.
To make the pickled cabbage salad, put all of the ingredients except the mint leaves in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer. The liquid will not cover the vegetables, but as the cabbage simmers it will cook down. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave to cool (with the lid on)
Mix the coriander and some salt and pepper through the kidney bean carob chilli, and serve with a nice pile of salad on top and some chopped red chilli sprinkled over.