Ages ago I entered a chili competition at work. (Like, back when I was actually working at a real job. Which yes, has been ages ago.) I did a Caribbean Jerk Chicken Chili. I had just returned to Canada from living in the Dominican Republic. I was home-sick and missed tropical flavors. There’s a post on this site with that recipe. It has chicken in it. Silly me. But I don’t want to delete it. There’s memories there.
In any case, even though the Dominican Republic isn’t like some of the other Caribbean islands where there’s jerk seasoning I took some liberties and emphasized that this was Caribbean-inspired. From my brain. Not authentic food.
So it was probably at least 2 full years ago when I came up with this recipe. I’ve never made it since. While there were meaty months within those last two years, this chili dish never made it back onto the menu. Now that I’ve returned to being fully vegan, I’m starting to think it’s time for a vegan version of this dish. It turned out even better than the chicken chili. I promise! I’m not even exaggerating to sell you on the vegan version.
One of these days I intend on making my very own jerk seasoning but not this time. Sorry.
I did find a great brand of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning at Superstore though. It’s in the international foods aisle. It’s Walkerswood Traditional Jerk Seasoning. I chose this one because they use virtually no junk in their products. Everything Walkerswood produces is gluten-free. The ingredients in this Jerk paste are simple: scallions, scotch bonnet peppers, salt, black pepper, all spice, nutmeg, citric acid, cane sugar, thyme leaves. No fillers, no hard to pronounce chemical ingredients. The flavor and the heat are both great.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 rounded teaspoonfuls Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
- 3 (14 oz.) cans beans, drained and rinsed (see note below)
- Water, to cover
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.
- Saute garlic, celery, onion, and bell pepper about 3 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add Jamaican Jerk seasoning, starting with a bit at a time.
- Add coconut milk, tomato paste, rinsed beans and lime juice. Stir to combine well.
- Taste for seasoning and add more Jerk if necessary. Remember: It's easier to add heat than take it away!
- Cover pot, reduce heat to minimum and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in half of the diced mango and half of the minced cilantro. Stir to combine. Replace cover and let simmer another 10 minutes.
- Serve over rice with fresh mango and cilantro to garnish.
Note about the beans: I originally used canellini (white kidney) beans for this but when I went to make this I realized I had run out. This time I used a can of navy beans, a can of black-eyed peas and a can of Romano beans. I actually really loved the combination of these three. I called it small, medium, large and the varying textures and starchiness really added a depth to the chili that I didn’t get when I used just canellini beans. So, try experimenting!
I also feel I need to clarify what I mean by ‘2 heaping teaspoonfuls’ of the Jerk seasoning. I used just a regular spoon, not a measuring spoon, rounded with a big dollop of the Jerk seasoning. That’s as accurate as I can get. You should be starting small and tasting as you go anyway to avoid overdoing the spice for your personal tastes.
This might seem like an odd recipe but I just love it. My tummy is so full right now and I can’t stop thinking about eating this again for lunch tomorrow. That’s how much I love it. I hope you do too.
Have you ever come up with an adventurous recipe that sounds far-fetched but turns out amazing? I’d love to hear about it!