Friday, October 7, 2011
Vegan Mofo #13 - Isa’s Lentil Eggplant Chili Mole with Fresh Corn and Scallion Cornbread...
Vegan Mofo #13 - Isa’s Lentil Eggplant Chili Mole with Fresh Corn and Scallion Cornbread
The Book - "Appetite for Reduction"
The Author - Isa Chandra Moskowitz
The Recipe - Lentil and Eggplant Chili Mole with Fresh Corn and Scallion Cornbread
Page # 242-243
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 15 minutes prep time, 45-60 min cook time for Chili - Roughly 15 minutes prep time, 30-45 minutes cook time for cornbread.
I love Chili! It’s another one of my favorite meals from growing up. There’s nothing better then having a big pot of fragrant chili on the stove during those long cold winter months. However as much as I love chili, I don’t make it that often anymore. See my husband is not a fan of beans, how anyone can not like beans I don’t know! And I love beans in my chili, the more the merrier, so making two pots of chili isn’t always worth the effort.
When I first saw this recipe in ‘Appetite for Reduction’ I thought, great! A Chili recipe with no beans! It had lentils which I love and my husband tolerates and Eggplant which my husband loves and I tolerate. You see Eggplant is one of those rare vegetables that I only like if cooked certain ways. Too often I find it to be too chewy, too tough, too waxy or too bitter. However when cooked just right eggplant is delicious, so I was very curious to try this recipe. Though despite my curiosity I must admit I was also skeptical. The recipe calls for 2 medium eggplants which is a lot of eggplant, not to mention it also calls for cocoa powder and cinnamon. I’d actually never had a mole sauce before trying out this chili, but I know adding cocoa and cinnamon to chili is a common thing in Mexico. I’d just never had chili with cinnamon or cocoa in it, and honestly cocoa and cinnamon just don’t sound like they belong in chili. Yet despite my reservations I decided to give this recipe a try because what’s the worst that could happen? You don’t like it? Big deal. The best thing that could happen is that it becomes your favorite meal, and that’s almost always a risk I’m willing to take.
I was seriously surprised with this recipe. It was so much better then I even imagined it would be. The flavors worked really well together and both the cinnamon and the cocoa were subtle. The eggplant too was hardly noticeable as it cooks down a lot. Trust me on this, when you cut up two large or medium eggplants it’s going to look like A LOT, but it will cook down almost into liquid, so don’t be tempted to use less! I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. First of all I used slightly less cocoa powder. I’m sure the 2 tbsp would have been fine but I was erring on the side of caution. I also added more cumin, chili powder, garlic and oregano then she suggests. As much as I love Isa’s recipe I find I generally have to add more seasoning because I like my flavors really bold. However I suggest you cook it the directed way and then taste it before adding in more just incase the spicing is good enough for you. You can always add more after all but once it’s in there you can’t take it away.
I must say I really am surprised at just how good this chili was. Who knew? I particularly loved the addition of lentils, lentils are a wonderful food, a favorite of mine so adding them into anything always pleases me. Though oddly I don’t think it ever would have occurred to me to add lentils into chili on my own. This chili is also particularly good wit the suggested fresh corn and scallion cornbread, in fact making that cornbread to serve with this chili is a must! Not only is the flavor phenomenal but it really rounds out the chili. They really compliment each other beautifully.
What I love about this cornbread recipe is it’s creativity. Using fresh corn and scallions in a cornbread recipe is not something I would have thought of. This is a revelation, and now I can’t wait to try and add all kinds of things into my future cornbread recipes. Subsequently this is also the recipe that turned my husband from a cornbread hater to a cornbread lover, so I gotta be happy about that. I followed the recipe as directed except I added a bit more corn kernals and green onions to the batter, just a personal preference.
Then I served the chili topped with a pinch of daiya cheddar cheese, and fresh cilantro. With a triangle of cornbread stuck in the side. It’s the perfect fill your gut, stick to your ribs meal for any cool fall or winter evening.