I’ll be honest. This started off more as a mid-week fridge raid rather than something that was pre-planned and perfected on a plate. Having said that though, my usual fridge raids are seldom this fruitful. Most often, all I find are a few wilted vegetables that can only be salvaged by converting into breakfast smoothies, and eggs. We always have eggs. I’m the friendly neighbour you should turn to if ever you run out of them.

Fresh thyme, I buy whenever it’s available in the market, and freeze. I tried my hand at potting them, but no luck there. The rest of the ingredients for this recipe are pantry staples, and I always have a few cans of kidney beans languishing at the back of my shelf. I often use the dried beans if I remember to soak them the previous night, in which case I cook those separately until soft and add to the chili (you’d only need to use ¾th of a cup of dried beans, since they swell up and double in size once rehydrated).

I hadn’t made chili since college until about a year ago, when I randomly came across a Google ad from Tesco trying to sell me their chili spice mixes. I take it as a sign that this recipe was meant to come back into my life, but also more importantly, that I need to change my web browser.


Adapted from Hairy bikers and Gordon Ramsay.

500 grams minced beef

1 small can of red kidney beans, drained

2 large onions, diced

7 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

A sprig of thyme

1 ½ teaspoons cumin powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

Chilli powder (to taste)

1 ½ tsp paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

6 large tomatoes / 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 stick of cinnamon

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon sugar

1 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper


Accompaniments: Boiled rice, sour cream, diced avocado, and lime/lemon wedges.


If using fresh tomatoes : bring a pot of water to the boil and drop the tomatoes in. Blanch in the boiling water until the skins of the tomatoes start to blister and come away slightly. Run under cold water, peel back the skins completely and very roughly blitz in a blender. Set aside.

In a large pot, sauté the onions in olive oil until they are nicely browned; add the chopped garlic and thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the mince to the pan and cook together, breaking up the lumps with your spatula. Cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the meat is browned well.

Add the paprika, coriander powder, chilli powder, oregano, and cumin powder and fry for 1 – 2 minutes. Toss in the chopped/blitzed tomatoes and stir well to combine. Leave on a medium-high heat and wait for the tomatoes to darken and reduce slightly. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Tip in the tomato paste, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, sugar, kidney beans, and chicken stock and let it bubble away on a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes or until it thickens and reaches the right consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve hot over boiled rice and top with coriander leaves, avocado, and a fresh squeeze of lime.


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