I wish I enjoyed cooking, I really do, because I certainly like to eat. Every time I have a memorable restaurant experience, I think to myself, ‘why don’t I try to replicate this at home’. Yet whenever I find a recipe I think I would enjoy following, I end up a broken man, having usually spent 3 times the cost of the restaurant version on ingredients and dirtying every dish in my cupboard during preparation. By the time I have prepared the meal and cleaned up all the dishes, I am usually too strung out to sit down and enjoy my work, which incidentally, never tastes as good as I hoped it would. However, there is one dish in this world that I have mastered, and that’s chili.
When I was in high school, I began to develop a taste for spicy food. In my home, that meant my Mom’s chili, which was the only item she made on a regular basis that had even a hint of spice. Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I decided to follow the recipe on my own one day and it turned out to be pretty good. I quickly realized that I could increase the spice level of the dish with a little more chilli powder, and then top up my personal bowl with a few chili flakes. A lot of people notice my ability to tolerate even the spiciest of dishes and ask if marrying a Sri Lankan made me such a spice lover. Nope. In reality, my spice tolerance had already been quite high, and it’s what got me through the first few Sri Lankan dishes Yashy made for me. It all traces back to chili.
Disclosure : I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog, as always, are TOTALLY ours!
Through university, I became known for my chili (at least 4 people know me this way). Being the only dish I ever made regularly, I became pretty good at it, knowing just how much chilli powder to add to make the dish spicy enough to have my friends chugging extra beer but not so spicy that the dish went untouched. Then I met Yashy, and she gave me a package of chilli powder from Sri Lanka. The first batch I made was so hot that I had a few classmates break out in sweats when I made a batch for the Super Bowl one year, and I have spent recent years trying to rework the recipe to accommodate for the fiery flavors that Sri Lankan chilli powder can produce. I am beginning to realize that this may not be possible, but a savior has emerged, sour cream. Adding a little Gay Lea Sour Cream (or a lot) to a bowl of chili not only tempers the spice level, but adds great flavour as well. We served Gay Lea’s Fat Free Sour Cream on New Year’s Eve given all the indulgences taking place and everyone loved the silky texture and tangy taste, not even noticing that it was fat free! We were a bit surprised when Little Monkey wanted none of the chili (we made a non spicy version as well) but all of the sour cream. Yashy decided to help me out and served the chili in a bread bowl and she also crumbled some Ivanhoe Horseradish Cheddar on hers. Our friends also enjoyed the chili with the sour cream and horseradish cheddar, so if you’re a cheese lover that’s definitely the way to go.
This year, I’ve already started cooking my favorite dish, having made a batch on New Year’s Eve, with enough left over for the upcoming NFL playoff games. And during this year’s Super Bowl, you can bet I’ll have a new pot brewing. Here’s the way I make it, but I would encourage you to experiment with your favourite vegetables and spices. Just remember to be restrained if you buy your chilli powder at a Sri Lankan grocery store!
Ingredients (serves 6 to 8)
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 lb of sliced mushrooms
- 1 green pepper – chopped
- 2 cans (19 fl oz) red kidney beans
- 2 cans (28 fl oz) whole tomatoes
- 1 can (15 fl oz) tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Gay Lea Sour Cream
- Cheese and Cilantro (optional)
- In a 1 gallon pot, cook the ground beef over medium heat, stirring the meat to break it into fine pieces.
- Once the meat turns brown, add in sliced mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in sliced green peppers and cook for 1 minute.
- Drain the tomato cans and add to pot, stirring to break the tomatoes into smaller pieces (I usually use 2 table knives and slice the tomatoes in a scissor-like fashion).
- Drain and add the red kidney beans
- Add the tomato sauce, chilli powder, cumin, salt, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce and stir
- Reduce heat to low
- Simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally
- Top with Gay Lea Sour Cream and serve (you can also crumble some cheese or shred some cilantro if you like!)