The other day my husband came home from work and informed me that it was mandatory that his team members prepare some chili for a chili cook-off fundraiser. The previous week I had declined to participate since I was in the middle of major renovations at my mother’s house and wouldn’t be home during the day and had my work to do in the evenings.
Someone who was trying to be helpful found a peculiar recipe on the Internet with shredded chicken and cooked rice that is added to tomato sauce and seasoned with a spoonful of curry powder. That sounded absolutely dreadful! I was asked for my opinion of this recipe from one of his team members and I panicked! How do I say, in a tactful manner, that there was no way I would put something like that in my mouth? Instead I offered to create a new recipe for them.
I immediately went to work and, a few hours later, had a draft of an Indian Chili recipe in hand. Of course, a recipe on paper may not work; without a few trials the seasonings and ratios will not be correct. I couldn’t give it to an unsuspecting and, potentially, non-cooking team member to prepare. What could I do? I volunteered to make the chili recipe.
I started soaking all of my small red beans over night. These beans look like red kidney beans but are a fraction of the size and have a firm texture and buttery flavor. They are among my favorite beans to use in cooking. I planned to make two batches so I would have a backup in case the seasonings didn’t turn out the way I wanted. The next morning, after I started boiling them, I learned that I needed three gallons of chili! Panic time started – I needed more red beans! My darling husband told me he would run to the store and buy more and then start soaking them during his lunch break. (If he had failed to start the beans soaking at noon, I could have used my pressure cooker or increased the boiling time.) Fortunately for me, he delivered on his promise and bought two large bags of beans (enough to last a year) and started the soaking process.
After eight hours of late night cooking up six batches of Indian Vegetarian Chili with Small Red Beans recipe, the chili was finally finished. My feet were tired and my house had taken on a strong aroma of eau de chili. Everything was prepared, packaged and refrigerated.
My husband and his team shared this chili at the cook-off the next day. Through a lot of hard work by his team to prepare the booth including purchasing a tent, finding matching aprons, printing signs that extoll the chili’s health benefits and locating several slow cookers to heat the chili, the cook-off was a success. All of my chili disappeared.
Since my recipe did not have meat but did have beans, it was judged in the curry category. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t really matter since it is spiced like a curry and could vaguely be considered to be a really thick, chunky curry. From what I hear the competition was very rigorous but we won 3rd place. Not bad for a novice chili chef.