Winter is coming, the time of year where perpetual colds and snuffles are imminent, the nights draw in darker, and I start to crave a little bit of heat and spice. Usually I spend my winters making long slow curries, but, ambling around the Caribbean section of a supermarket I don’t usually manage to get to, I started to rifle through the unusual (to me) goods on offer, and muse about what to do with them. I enjoy a new culinary adventure, and I picked up a few tins of gungo peas, callalloo (a little like spinach), ackee. I wrote down ‘cornmeal porridge’, threw a large bag of rosecoco beans into my basket, and made notes in the little back-pocket notebook I am rarely without. I went home and tweeted about my haul, and Twitter followers with a lifetime of experience in cooking with these ingredients kindly sent me recipes and ideas. A new adventure is beginning, and I am super excited to explore it.
This chilli was my first foray, not dissimilar from my standard chilli recipe , and it got a lot of love over on Instagram, but not as much love as it got in my tummy! It packs a pretty heat, so, feel free to tone the chilli down if you’re not quite ready to look like you’ve had lip fillers by the end of it…! I used mushrooms, peppers and kale as that’s what I had in, but any veg will do – it’s beautifully versatile.
Serves 4 at 28p each
1 tbsp (13g) Dunns River Caribbean seasoning, 8p (3 x 100g for £2, Tesco)
200g mushrooms, 42p (85p/400g, Sainsburys Basics)
a handful of frozen peppers, or 1 fresh one of any colour, 15p (£1.50/1kg, Sainsburys)
400g kidney beans, 30p (30p/400g, Sainsburys Basics)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup, 1p (45p/460g, Sainsburys Basics)
100g frozen spinach, 15p (£1.50/1kg, Sainsburys)
a pinch or two of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes, <1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)
First, a word on the Caribbean seasoning – some may raise their eyebrows at this, but it is barely cheating when you are making the rest from scratch, and to be frank, since I discovered it, I have thrown it into everything and I like you lot, you deserve to know about the good things. You can get it from most good supermarkets and a lot of corner stores, I often pick mine up in my local Tesco Express, for example. If you can’t find it, you can use a mixture of paprika, coriander, garlic and celery salt as an alternative, but honestly, keep your eyes peeled for it, it’s life-changing stuff.
Now – grab a wide, shallow pan and add a tablespoon of oil to it. Not too much, as you want the first stage of this to fry fairly dry, even char at the edges slightly. Chop your mushrooms and toss them in, and bring to a high heat. Slice the pepper finely and add that too, and the Caribbean seasoning, and give it all a good stir. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to disturb it so it doesn’t stick and burn.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans, and add them to the pan. Add the ketchup (a quick cheat way of adding tomato puree, a little vinegar, salt and a smudge of sugar to a dish, and far cheaper too), the spinach, and half a cup of water, and give it all a stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes, reducing the sauce to a thick and sticky one, before serving.
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