Chilli con carne estilo mole

In which I investigate how to ramp up the heat in my traditionally not-spicy-at-all chilli con carne, and also dare to add some chocolate to it. A very successful experiment!


  • 1 medium/big onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper corns
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A dash of vinegar
  • 1 tomato can (~400 g)
  • 1 red beans can (~400 g)
  • 25 g chocolate (100% cocoa)
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Salt
  • Optional: minced meat (I used 400g lamb)
  • To serve: rice or salad, or anything else you fancy! (tortillas?)

You’ll also need a big pan or pot, with a lid. There’s a lot of simmering in this and if you don’t cover the pan all the liquids evaporate before things have had time to get cooked.


  1. Peel and dice the onion somewhat finely, set aside.
  2. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves, set aside.
  3. Thinly slice the red chilli (you can cut it lengthwise and remove the seeds if you’re afraid of the HEAT?), set aside.
  4. Put the cumin and coriander seeds and the black peppercorns in a mortar and ground them finely.
  5. Add some neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed) to a big pan and set to a medium-high heat.
  6. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to soften.
  7. Add the minced meat, if using. Cook until it’s almost not red anymore, stirring frequently. I start using the lid on the pan from here, so the meat gets cooked more uniformly.
  8. Add the garlic and chilli, cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring.
  9. Add the ground spices, and stir to mix in thoroughly.
  10. Move all the ingredients to the sides of the pan, making a “hole” in the center. Set the heat to a very high heat, and when it’s very hot, add the contents of the tomato can.
  11. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat and mix the tomato sauce with the rest of ingredients.
  12. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.
  13. Add the paprika and a few pinches of salt, mix well and taste; add a touch more salt if needed. It might be quite spicy at this time, but it will get diluted when we add the other ingredients. It will surely be still a bit sour, so we’re going to simmer it a bit longer.
  14. Drain the beans can (possibly rinse using a colander if the contents are very gooey), and add the beans to the pan. Stir well.
  15. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, again stirring each 10 minutes. Taste the sauce each time you stir…
  16. … and when it’s not sour anymore, add the dash of vinegar and the cinnamon, and mix well.
  17. Finally break the chocolate in pieces and add it to the pan, stirring so it melts and makes everything chocolate coloured.

We had this with rocket salad and some brown rice. Yum!

If you were to have this without meat (for example, using rehydrated soya mince), you would add some additional fat, because the meat releases lots of fat that make the sauce yummy. Perhaps add non salted butter or coconut butter (something a bit more viscous than just oil). Or maybe any other sort of thickener such as flour.

I had no idea of what I was doing, but it turned out quite good

A couple weeks ago we received the first part of our Christmas gift: 10 kg of organic rice from the Delta del Ebre in Catalunya, and the conversation on Twitter ended up with my friend Amanda suggesting I cook some Tex Mex food… with which I am very unfamiliar as a cook.

Then yesterday I somehow I felt the URGE to have some sort of chilli con carne (must be the cold weather) but this time I also felt an irrepressible need for experimenting a bit with seasoning and perhaps make it taste more “genuine”, and for this I’m going to blame Amanda here and now!

The chilli con carne I normally cook is very much non-spicy and I’m sure has very little to do with actual Mexican food. Could I change this?

My online searches weren’t very fruitful, or more accurately, there were lots of results but a great lack of clarity. So I abandoned this avenue, and went to the supermarket instead, hoping to find some inspiration (and the groceries I needed) there.

Browsing the spices and prepared sauces section, my eyes set on a “Mexican style” sauce pot. The list of ingredients contained some questionable choices, but I trusted my cooking skills and decided to create my own sauce using that list as a base, and leaving “the nasties” such as milk, soya lecithin, corn flour and sugar out. (Note I’m not saying these ingredients are bad in themselves, but if you can avoid having them, then all the better).

I was very pleased when the result came out tasting so good. I couldn’t quite believe it, as I had never cooked anything like this! I was very impressed with how the flavours combined with each other, and everything felt very balanced: by simmering for long enough, the tomatoes were not sour anymore, the cinnamon made things smell ‘sweet’ even if there was no added sugar, the amount of spices was enough to give it flavour and heat but not too much that it was just spices, the vinegar dash gave it an extra depth, and the chocolate added some earthy sourness. I feel like I earned a few cooking “XP” with this dish! ?

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