Well, we all know that vegetarian chili has not meat in it! That is a give in. The old saying of “fat is where the flavor is” well, that does hold true does it not? So what do we do when we want to add flavor to vegetarian chili recipes? We add chilies for a bit of heat and some flavor, remember that there are many chili pepper varieties out there and being familiar with as many as you can and the properties of each will only aid in your chili cooking endeavors.. There are of course other things that can be added and we will cover them. In this article we will look at 5 simple tips to making great vegetarian chili recipes.
Tip 1. Know thy chili peppers! Getting to know the chili peppers that you will use will help you in figuring out just how much heat you can take in your chili dish. So the trick is to know which types of chili peppers are the hottest. We all know that a bell pepper is not going to impart heat at all in our recipes, but we do know that a jalapeno or habanero are some of the hottest chili peppers around. They make pepper spray for the police out of habanero chili, so you can imagine how hot it is! So if using this type of chili in your dish use it sparingly and work your way up to the heat level that you are satisfied with. In most cases, most people use the good old standby of the Jalapeno chili pepper and that is fine. They have a mild/medium heat and most people can handle that. It is my opinion that you should learn and experiment with other types of chilies in your various recipes.
Tip 2. When you are cooking your vegetarian chili recipes, it is a good idea to start adding your chilies toward the end of the dish around the last two hours of cooking. This lets the other flavors blend and then you add the chilies and you add another layer of texture as well as flavor. Add slowly and taste often with your spoon until the desired hear level is reached. The best part about chilies is that they are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that are good for your immune system. Chilies are also thermogenic and help in losing fat if you use them in your diet.
Tip 3. Chilies are rated by Scoville heat units. This means that some chili peppers can actually burn the skin, eyes or nasal passages. Do not handle chili peppers with your bare hands! If you have cooking gloves, use them! If you do not have cooking gloves, get some! If that it is not possible at the moment, then coat your hands in olive oil to add a layer of protection from the chili pepper juices. Of course if you do not want to chop your chili peppers then you can grind them in any number of ways and with any number of kitchen gadgets.
Tip 4. How much heat from chili do you think you can handle? If not much there are a couple of things that you can do. The first thing is to get the seeds out of the chilies you will use. Another tip is to cut out or remove the “ribs” inside the chili peppers. There is much debate as to what is the hotter part of the chili pepper, the ribs or the seeds? I personally do not care because in my humble opinion they are both real hot! Taking these steps will reduce the heat of many chilies to something a bit more mild in heat for your vegetarian chili recipes.
Tip 5. You know the old saying “Man, and Woman cannot live by bread alone.” Well, Man, and Woman cannot live by chili alone, either! Chili is a synergistic food. They taste fine by themselves, but only enhance the tastes of other elements in a recipes and the other elements of the recipe enhance the flavor of the chili. Chili peppers that are added to things like onions, garlic, various beans, hard tofu or tofu products, and fire roasted tomatoes can really make your vegetarian chili recipes fly! You do not add all these ingredients together at the same time. In fine dining it is called building layers of flavor. So you need to start by mixing and sautee’ of the items that are not hot and slowly adding in your chili peppers keep in mind always a little touch of salt and a little touch of either black or white pepper.