Let’s spend a moment contemplating the Aztecs. They’re a jolly lot. They revered the sun and gave it the perky name “Huitzilopochtli”. Then they sacrificed humans, and, according to some, ate them, too. And they seem to have been quite fond of cacao beans. Instead of going through the hassle of forging coins, they just paid for stuff with cacao beans (and even though they had no numismatical system, they still had forgery: apparently people would take an empty cacao bean shell and fill it with soil, haha). They also made some kind of concoction with these beans and numerous spices, which would be inedible to us, but which they considered an essential part of religious ceremonies, and rather appetising.
Which brings me to my subject. These days, in Mexico, they still use cacao beans (or actually, chocolate) and a load of different spices for making a sauce called mole poblano. To me, this actually sounds a little disgusting, but I’ve heard people describe this mole poblano as an amazing explosion of flavours so I’ve always been quite curious about it. So the last time I was cooking some chili I decided to give it a shot, because I do really like to try new things, and it wasn’t as if a whole lot was at stake here, and I figured ”what the Aztecs can do, I can”, so I got out the cocoa powder! If it failed horribly, it would still be an interesting experiment, I figured. And interesting it was…
At first, I took out a wee portion of my sauce and added some cocoa powder, just to see what would happen. Although chocolate is sweet, cocoa powder is actually mostly bitter, so it didn’t turn out quite as weird as I thought it would. In fact, surprisingly little happened at all, so it seemed safe enough to give the whole batch the same chocolatey treatment. I generously sprinkled the powder into my sauce, thinking that maybe in bigger quantities, the cacao powder and all of the other spices would start interacting and do interesting stuff. Unfortunately, the only noticeable result I got, was that my previously delicious looking sauce had now turned a suspicious brown colour, and my pan full of chili now looked almost exactly like a pan full of fluid crap with badly digested grains of corn in it. It was most unfortunate. At the same time that I was gazing upon my monstrous creation, not too sure what to do (bin it, eat it, use it for a prank, etc), my flatmate came home from work. He’s suspicious of my cooking as it is, and this time even I was too ashamed to defend the nutritious values of the dish, or to accuse him of closed mindedness and unwillingness to try something new. So I quickly put a lid on my pan, said “You can’t use the small frying pan, I’ve got sauce in it!”, prayed that he wouldn’t take a look and then left for a walk to contemplate the whole happening.
When I got back home I decided to eat it anyway. And even though it looked like crap (literally), it didn’t taste too bad. Thankfully, because I made so much that I’ll have t eat it again tonight. I’m never putting cocoa powder in my chili again. Crushed doritos, however, that’s actually really nice. Gives the chili a much nicer colour and flavour. So here’s for 4:
– 1 onion
– some garlic
– 1 tsp crushed chillies
– 1 tbsp ground coriander
– a tin of beans of some description
– a tin of sweetcorn
– 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
– a stock cube (I like beef)
– one red bell pepper
– bag of tortilla chips
– any kind of vegetables or meat you might want to add
– some yoghurt or sour cream, some jalapeños, anything you normally like to sprinkle over your chili.
Chop up the onion and garlic, fry them in some oil and add the crushed chillies and the coriander. Chop the bell pepper into chunks and add those, too. Then add the tomatoes, the stock cube and some water. Drain the beans and the sweet corn, add them too. Generously shake in tabasco. Take the tortilla chips (like, half of them) and crush them into a powderish substance. Stir them into the sauce so that it becomes nice and thick. Leave to simmer for a while, then serve with rice and anything you might like.
No picture, obviously.