I mean, sure, on paper chocolate plus eggplant sounds like a recipe for disaster, or at least part of a mystery basket from an episode of Chopped but when you add the word mole, things start to make more sense.
Once blended with all of the other spices that go into this mole-inspired vegan chili, the cocoa lends a rich, dark backbone of flavor, a depth that when combined with the slow-cooked eggplant chunks lends a meatiness to the dish. On the grand scale of vegan and vegetarian chili making, this one is quite satisfying with hearty lentils and eggplant and a great spice that's complemented by a few teaspoons of agave nectar swirled in at the end.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Appetite for Reduction to give away this week.
Adapted from Appetite for Reduction. Copyright © 2010. Published by Da Capo Lifelong Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, cut into medium dice
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup dried green lentils, washed
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- One (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar or pure maple syrup
- Cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and bell pepper in the oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, using nonstick cooking spray or a splash of water if it’s sticking. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add n cup of the vegetable broth and the cocoa powder, and cook for about 1 more minute while stirring to dissolve the cocoa.
Add the lentils, remaining vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and eggplant. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, keeping a close eye on it. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the eggplant is soft. Mix in the agave. Taste for salt and seasoning
Let the chili sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor. Serve garnished with cilantro, if you like.