Vegetable chilli

An appetising dish of chilli does not have to include beef mince. This veggie version is just as flavour-full.

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Even in the summer, there's something comforting about a vat of chilli bubbling on the stove. But chilli doesn't always have to be made with beef mince. In fact, given health warnings that we should limit the amount of red meat we eat, it could well be just the time to give a veggie version a whirl.

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Omitting the meat not only means that you cut down on cholesterol and calories, but also allows you to up the vegetable quotient and sneak some heart-healthy, nutrient-rich pulses into the mix. Pulses are a good source of slow-release carbohydrates; they keep you feeling fuller for longer and add bulk, meaning that there's no need to serve white rice or tortilla chips on the side.

Fear not. This recipe below is still full of flavour and you can always add more spice if you like your chilli especially fiery. Serve with piles of crunchy, fresh iceberg lettuce and low-fat sour cream or slightly salted natural yoghurt. And if you can't possibly tuck into chilli without a smattering of cheese, choose a strong variety and grate it finely.

Vegetable chilli

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2x2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Half-1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
120g green lentils, rinsed
500-750ml homemade or good quality shop-bought vegetable stock
1 tin white beans, drained
1 tin kidney beans, drained
salt and black pepper

To serve

Iceberg lettuce
Low-fat sour cream / natural yoghurt

Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Stir in the chilli powder and cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute, before adding the chopped red and green pepper.

Stir in the tomato purée, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for a further 2-3 minutes (it is important to 'cook out' the tomato purée). Add the chopped tomatoes, lentils and 500ml vegetable stock, stir to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer, stirring every so often and adding more stock to the pan as necessary. After 30 minutes, taste to check if the lentils are tender. If they are, season with salt and black pepper and add both tins of beans. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve hot with plenty of iceberg lettuce and yoghurt or sour cream.

Nutritional information for beef chilli (per serving):
Calories: 528
Calories from fat: 324
Total fat: 36g

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