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6/9/09 Jamal's Ever-Evolving Chili

Chili is one of those infinitely-adaptable foods, like stew. You can add nearly anything, and it's always good. I'll add a vegetable or two every day for the next week, and the chili will last till I leave town and be delicious every day.

But here's how it starts...

1 onion
2 green peppers
1 head (not clove, the whole head) garlic
2 tomatoes
2-3 chili peppers
2 potatoes
2 carrots
1 can corn
1/2 lb beans (preferably kidney beans and black beans), pre-soaked
1 12-ounce jar of tomato paste (Aicha Matisha is the local variety)
cumin (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Dice onion and peppers. Mince garlic. In a large stew pot, saute the garlic till you can just smell it, then add the onion and pepper, plus the cumin and salt. Saute, then add tomatoes.

Add water to cover all the vegetables, than add another two inches of water on top.

Wait for water to boil. While waiting, dice the chilis, cube the potatoes, and slice the carrots into thin circles. Once the water boils, add the vegetables (including corn) and beans.

When the water has returned to a boil, stir in tomato paste. Reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for about an hour (or as long as you can hold out - chili only gets better with sitting, but it's also filling your house with nearly irresistable odors, so waiting is hard), stirring occasionally. As it cooks down, don't be afraid to add water, but be sure to salt it to taste before serving.

Optional variations:
1 lb beef - Brown the beef while sauteing the garlic, onions, and peppers. Here in Morocco, kefta [ground beef] comes pre-spiced, so you can mix it directly into the chili.
Bay leaves - I'm a fan, but Jamal thinks that they're "cheating" - if you balance the spices right, you don't need them.
Worchestershire sauce - It gives a richness and darkness to vegetarian food that beef provides to non-vegetarian food.
Whiskey - Then you can light the chili on fire before serving. 'Cause flammable food is cool. :)

Note: Cinnamon makes everything better. Add at your discretion. :)

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