Caribbean style chilli, 28p [VG/V/DF/GF]

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.

Jack Monroe.

 My new book, Cooking on a Bootstrap, is now available to order HERE.

 This blog is free to those who need it, and always will be, but it does of course incur costs to run and keep it running. If you use it and benefit, enjoy it, and would like to keep it going, please consider popping something in the tip jar, and thankyou.


  1. I realise that I use your recipes for inspiration but have not told you! Thanks for your commitment to inclusive recipes…we are trying to eat less meat and be more thoughtful in how we consume…your approach needs to be spread far and wide…Lynn from Northumberland

  2. Looks delicious! But my mind is reeling over the fact that callaloo aka amaranth aka pigweed is sold canned anywhere. In my part of the US, it’s a weed. In the last few years, my garden partner and I have tried to use some of it instead of pull all of it. Callaloo is a famous dish, but there are also a number of Greek recipes it can work in too. If you’re interested, check out Diane Kochilas’ recipes, especially the ones from her book Ikaria.

  3. I love gungo peas.. cooked up with rice and coconut milk like they do in Panama and probably a few other places too.. enjoy! (Can’t wait till your cookbook arrives!)

  4. Goodmorning Jack, you are on a roll at the moment, so lovely to see another new recipe today(Sunday here) this looks amazing and would smell divine. I will have to source out the spice maybe in an Asian grocer here, they seem to have different aisles for different cultures. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. Dear Jack,
    Can you pls tell me when your new book “cooking on a bootstrap” will be due to release ? Love, Pat

  6. Cannot wait to try this!
    I posted the following on the Kickstarter page, but not sure if you see the messages there so…
    A perfect Christmas present, it arrived in the post yesterday. Such a beautiful book, I cannot wait to cook my way through it. Thank you so much for all you do Jack, please know you are appreciated by so many who have never met you, but who can feed their families better thanks to your blog and your books.
    I hope you and Small Boy have a wonderful loving Christmas, and wish you only good things for 2018 and beyond.

  7. Really satisyfing meal. I cobbled together the seasoning mix using your suggestions (as I couldn’t get the rusted-on lid off my jar of Jamaican Jerk spice blend). Used black beans & lots of fresh garlic. Served over “dirty rice” flavoured and coloured with caramelised onions, mushrooms, smoked paprika, bayleaf and veggie stock. Thank you for the awesome vegan recipes!

  8. Hi Jack! Quick question about this because oh my word it looks amazing. Unfortunately, I think mushrooms are two steps removed from the devil incarnate unless they’re broken down super fine, but it kind of looks like they’re providing both the “meaty” textural component and a little bit of the umami component flavour-wise. Do you have any thoughts on substitutions or would you say that the fungal little buggers are pretty integral to keeping this veggie/vegan friendly?

  9. So glad you have a Caribbean recipe, reflecting my origins. Will have a go at this. I was so touched when you said you got loads of recipes from people who knew what to do with ingredients. Love what you do and I am going to try and incorporate 4 of your recipes in my weekly menu this year. I got stuck on your tarka dhal that I cooked for my Nigerian side of the family who loved it. xxxx

Leave a Reply