Chilli Sin Carne (Chilli without meat)

Most people are familiar with chilli con carne, a Mexican dish of mince meat, tomatoes and beans. Con carne is Spanish for with meat. As a herbivore, I decided to make chilli sin carne, or without meat.

My housemate’s reaction – this is amazing, I need to learn to make this shit.

Chilli sin carne is one of my favourite cold weather dishes. It is rich, healthy and delicious.

One of the things many people find difficult when cooking vegetarian dishes is to get the richness of flavour that meat provides. My answer to this is smoked paprika and cocoa, both of which are generously used in chilli sin carne.

The core ingredients in chilli sin carne are onion, Mexican spices, beans and mince. For the mince I used a vegetarian substitute called Quorn – it works a treat. My preferred beans are black beans, also known as turtle beans, most people use red kidney beans though.

Part 1 – the beans and veggies

Start by soaking the beans. I had intended to soak them overnight, but I had wine and completely forgot to do this. I soaked them for about an hour in the morning and then boiled them for half an hour.

Soak the beans

Soak the beans

For the veggies, you can use whichever ones you like in your chilli sin carne – this time I used eggplant, carrot, peas, corn and mushroom.

DSC00085By now your beans should be al dente and ready for the chopped veggies to be added to the pot.


Part 2 – the base

The base of chilli sin carne is onion, garlic and spices. Start by finely chopping two onions and frying them in beer. Let the onions fry until they start to stick to the pan (middle picture below), add quarter of a bottle of beer (about 1/3 cup) and scrape the bottom of the frypan with a spatula to lift off the bits that got stuck. When it starts to stick again repeat with another quarter of the beer. The onion will brown as its sugars and the sugars from the beer caramelise. Once this has happened add the minced garlic (right picture below).


Frying the onion

Next to be added are the spices – I used smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, cinnamon, chilli, cocoa and Cajun spice.



Add the Quorn mince and tin of crushed tomatoes to the fry pan. I forgot the tomatoes, but it still turned out delicious!


Part 3 – Bringing it all Together

Combine all the ingredients and simmer for an hour or so.

all together

After the chilli sin carne has been simmering for a while, have a taste. Does it need anything extra? I needed to add more cocoa and smoked paprika and a generous amount of salt.

Serve with sour cream and bread.

pic page

Ingredients: 2 cups dried black beans, 2 onions, 2 carrots, 1 eggplant, 1 cup of frozen peas, ½ tin of corn, 2 large mushrooms, 1 bag Quorn, 1 tin crushed tomatoes, garlic, ½ bottle beer, smoked paprika, cocoa, ground cumin, Cajun spice, ground coriander seeds, cinnamon, chilli and salt.

Equipment: chopping board, knife, fry pan, large pot


  1. Soak the beans for one hour and then boil for 30 minutes
  2. Chop the veggies and add (except the onion) to the beans
  3. Fry the onions, adding a small amount of beer at a time until brown and caramelised
  4. Add the garlic and spices to the onions, fry for a few minutes then add the Quorn and tomatoes
  5. Combine all ingredients in the pot and simmer for about an hour
  6. Taste the chilli sin carne and add more spices if needed (I added more smoked paprika and cocoa as well as salt)
  7. Serve with sour cream and bread

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