Wednesday, 2 October 2013

sweet potato chilli

I used to live with three other girls, in what I can really only describe as a castle by the sea. It was a huge, 17th century, grade 1 listed building right next to the beach, & we were unbelievably lucky to get it. Out of my bedroom window I could see the ruins of St Andrews castle perched preciously on top of the crashing North Sea, with nothing but blue on the horizon. It was beautiful; the kind of place that only St Andrews, really, can provide. But it was also cold. Officially cold as balls. It was drafty, impossible to heat, nothing worked, there were spiders everywhere, very little natural light ever came in and, alhough it was great that the house was so big the four of us essentially had a "wing" to ourselves, it also meant it got lonely pretty easily. To get to my bedroom you only had to go up one flight of stairs that were right next to the front door, so it was entirely feasible to spend days not seeing any of my housemates. However, we combatted that with communal meal times, and it was basically the best thing ever. Throughout the two dark, cold, seemingly unending winters that we lived in that house, the evenings we would gather in the living room bundled up in jumpers and blankets and onesies and tuck into something warming and filling were the very, very best. It's those memories that I'll treasure most from my time in that house.

My new house is a lot nicer. It's teeny tiny, heats up in minutes & stays warm for hours, everything's new and shiny and nice and clean, and the wardrobe actually fits all my clothes. It is a true miracle. But, I wanted to keep the tradition of communal meal times going with my new housemates, so every Monday we cook for each other, and for my first Monday I wanted to honour the spirit of my old house. Everything I like to cook can essentially be served in a bowl, is full of good, nutritious colours, and is easy and inexpensive to make. Hobbit food. Natural and nice. This, essentially, is that.

This chilli is one of Jamie Oliver's recipes and it's packed with stuff that's good for you, like sweet potatoes & peppers & kidney beans, but more importantly it is genuinely delicious. The sweetness of the sweet potato meets the intense notes of cayenne pepper, cumin & cinnamon to make this super warming dish that's perfect for autumn.

This, according to Jamie, serves 4-6. This, according to me & my housemates, feeds the 3 of us for one night & then I had the leftovers for lunch the next day. So four. But if you're not greedy little hobbits like us then, well, I don't really know what you're doing here in the first place.

To make enough for 4, you will need:

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes.
  • 1 level teaspoon of cayenne pepper, with extra for sprinkling.
  • 1 level teaspoon of ground cinammon, with extra for sprinkling.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin, with extra for sprinkling.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.
  • 1 onion.
  • 1 red pepper.
  • 1 yellow pepper.
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander.
  • 1 red chilli.
  • 1 green chilli.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 x 400g tins of kidney beans.
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes.

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.

2. Peel the sweet potatoes & chop them into bitesize chunks. Spread over a roasting tin or baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and scatter with a pinch of cayenne, pinch of cumin, pinch of cinammon, and a little bit of salt and pepper. Mix it all together with your hands until thoroughly coated & then pop in the oven. Jamie recommends 40 minutes, but my oven is one seriously determined little trooper so for me it only took about 30. Basically, when they're golden and tender, they're done.

3. Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a medium size saucepan over a medium heat.

4. Peel & roughly chop the onion; peel & finely chop the garlic; chop & deseed both peppers. Take this big pile of chopped up goodness and stick it into the pan of heated up olive oil, and let it cook (stirring often) for about 5 minutes.

5. As the onion mix cooks, chop & deseed both chillies, then take a small handful of your coriander and chop chop chop. If you can't be bothered being too fiddly and precise about this, I won't tell.

6. Add to the pan & cook for an additional five minutes, stirring often.

7. Drain both tins of kidney beans, and tip them into the saucepan along with both tins of chopped tomatoes. Stir well.

8. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium-low heat and leave uncovered for about 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Once it's cooked, remove your sweet potato from the oven and add to the chilli. Throw in most of your remaining coriander leaves & give it all a good stir.

10. Season to taste.

I'm not generally a fan of plain chilli and like to stick as much guacamole and sour cream on top as is humanly possible, but I did neither of those things with this. All I did was plonk it on the table with a bowl of brown rice and two giant spoons, and got thoroughly stuck in. But obviously, chilli is this amazingly versatile thing, so roll however you want to and stick as much stuff on top as you'd like. It'd be great scattered over nachos with a handful of cheese, or wrapped inside of tortillas & grilled.

Perfectly sweet, perfectly spicy, perfect for autumn, perfect for friends.


  1. I am obsessed with sweet potatoes and I'm a huuuge fan of chilli so this couldn't be more perfect. Definitely going to be whipping this one up soon! XX

  2. This looks delicious! I just ordered 1 of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks and I can't wait to get it!

  3. You write so beautifully! Thank you for commenting on my blog.
    I love the idea of cooking for each other on Mondays. In my student house I have to cook for one, but that's sometimes really difficult. This recipe looks absolutely amazing. I love sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and kidney beans. Beans, especially on cold days, are always a winner to me!

    Sofie x

  4. Yum! I tried this recipe and loved! Just up my alley. So flavorful! Thanks!

  5. I absolutely love sweet potatoes and Jamie Oliver, so I adore this recipe and will give it a go next week! Yummy in my tummy :) Are you based in Edinburgh? I'm visiting a friend who has just moved there in November, so if you have any places to recommend we are all ears xx

    1. hey! :) i actually live in st andrews, and am not really familiar with edinburgh at all i'm afraid. though i do spend a lot of time in the modern art gallery and love it there, but that's about it, sorry!