It is Guy Fawkes night in here in England on November 5. The story goes that in 1605, a group of people conspired to overthrow the King by blowing up the Parliament. Luckily, the attempt was foiled when hints of the plot was leaked to authorities. A certain guy called Guy Fawkes (yes, that's his real name) was caught in the cellar of the parliament building with 36 barrels of gunpowder. To celebrate the happy turn of events, people lit up bonfires. From then on, November 5 was called Bonfire Night and people celebrate with fireworks and bonfires where they burn effigies of Guy Fawkes.
It is amazing to know that terrorism is not a new thing. Another interesting fact is that the plotters were a group of Catholics who felt that the King was restricting the practice of their religion. There's a funny but unconfirmed twist to the story: the gunpowder they had was so old and useless and wouldn't ignite anyway had they tried.
Out of all that hoopla was born an interesting celebration. Warming food is usually eaten on bonfire night, usually soups and stews plus the omnipresent English sausages. What else would be good to eat on a cold night than chilli con carne. It would surely light the fire in you. I chose to use diced beef brisket rather than minced beef because I want it to have more texture. The open texture of brisket plus the marbling of fat and sinew have masses more flavour than mince and doesn't turn into mush when cooked. I added both red kidney and cannellini beans at the end. Served with baked potatoes or rice, with or without a bonfire, it makes a very enjoyable meal.
3 tbsps. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, chopped
1 kilo of beef brisket, cut into 1" cubes
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds, ground
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 green chilli, chopped
1 400 gm. tin of chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube
1 400 gm. tin of cooked red kidney beans
1 400 gm. tin of cooked cannellini beans
2 tsps. cocoa powder
salt and ground black pepper
Heat up a heavy pot and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped onions and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Stir and put the lid on. Cook on low heat until softened. Take the lid off and stir the onions until it starts to color.
Add the beef, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, tomato paste and green chilli. Fry on medium high heat for five minutes. The beef should be sealed and fragrant at this stage and there should be very little liquid in the mixture.
Add the canned tomatoes and the stock cube. Fill the can with water and add to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until the beef is tender (about 1 1/2 hours).
Drain the two kinds of beans and add to the pot together with the cocoa powder. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 20 minutes until the beans are tender but not mushy. Season to taste with salt and pepper to taste.
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