Mix and match the grains as you like – this is a great way to use up those odds and ends left at the bottom of a jar, but steer clear of couscous, as it cooks too quickly. The amount of stock needed will depend on the type of grain you use, so if you do experiment with different grains, make sure you watch the liquid levels and top up, if needed. This makes a vatful, so you’ll need your biggest pot; halve the quantities if you want a more manageable panful.
Olive or rapeseed oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
A thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped, or 1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin (ground or bashed seeds)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
3 × 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
300g green lentils, soaked
200g bulgur wheat, pearl barley or brown rice
1 tbsp cocoa powder
400g tin of small beans (haricot, black or black-eyed), or 300g home-cooked
1–2 litres vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
1 Put your biggest pot over a medium heat. Add a splash of olive or rapeseed oil and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for 10 minutes, or until soft.
2 Add the chilli powder, cumin and smoked paprika. Stir around in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Add all the other ingredients, stirring as you go – but start with 1 litre of the stock and keep the rest on hand to add as needed if the chilli starts to look a bit dry. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30–35 minutes, until the lentils and grains are cooked and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.
3 Season to taste, then serve.
Eight ways to eat your chilli
1 Tortillas or wraps (flour or corn), yoghurt, with chilli and thyme oil.
2 Spooned over corn tortilla chips, topped with a grating of good cheese and melted in the oven with some guacamole and salsa for dipping.
3 Sandwiched between two slices of fresh bread with a grating of cheese, a hit of sriracha and shredded lettuce.
4 In a couple of crispy taco shells with all the trimmings.
5 Folded into a wrap with some brown rice, chopped tomatoes and a little sour cream, burrito style.
6 In a toasted cheese sandwich.
7 With rice, yoghurt and chutney.
8 With sauteed greens and a quick tomato salsa.