We had Burnt Aubergine Chilli tonight. It’s not the first time that the word “burnt” has entered the conversation about my cookery, along with its synonyms – charred, scorched, over-cooked, cremated, incinerated and inedible. It is, however, the first time I’ve it’s been a deliberate choice.
The recipe is ‘low fat and four of your five a day,’ according to the website.
I didn’t quite follow the recipe – life is too short to cut carrots into tiny cubes, but I did use tinned tomatoes, red kidney beans, green lentils, onions and aubergine. As I recall, you can only count the beans and lentils as one portion, and it’s possible we have to discount the onions as not being a full portion. Call it 3½ portions, even without the carrots.
It wasn’t great, but to be fair to the recipe, I used it as a guide rather than a recipe.
I missed out the carrots because I’m lazy and some of the soy sauce because I’m an idiot (I forgot that a tablespoon is the really big one, not a dessert spoon – I’m always doing that). To be honest, I’m not sure that missing out a few mls of soy sauce was the main problem.
I also missed out the red lentils (replaced with extra green ones), the coriander and the cinnamon because I didn’t have any. (It turns out we did actually have cinnamon but ‘men can never see anything even when it’s straight in front of them’). Again, I’m not sure that missing out a few sprinkles of spice was a major problem.
The major problem may well have been that I was hungry, so I omitted the 800 ml of stock and most of the cooking time. I was using tinned lentils so it wasn’t as if they needed a lot of cooking. This may have deprived us of a great deal of flavour and texture. Or it may just have meant we ate sooner.
It was, as I say, not great. The spicing was quite hot, though acceptable by our modest standards, and the flavour was not as good as I would have liked. On the other hand, it wasn’t bad either. In truth, I’ve never really rated vegetarian chilli so I wasn’t particularly disappointed by the result. I will try it again and see how it goes.
The scorching of the aubergine skin, done using the garden flamethrower, did not produce the smoky flavour I was hoping for, though the discarded skin smelt reasonably smoky as it went into the compost. I was hoping for something spectacular for the photographs, but the camera seemed to filter the flame out.
Another problem is the chocolate. I used some of Julia’s hoard of 80% dark chocolate, thinking that if something is doing it is worth doing properly. It didn’t add anything to the taste, but when I mentioned it, it did add something to the conversation. I won’t go over the entire discussion, but Julia isn’t happy about the idea of me throwing her decent chocolate into a chilli. From the note of indignation in her voice you’d have thought I’d been using puppies, not chocolate.