Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Chili Con Carne (meaning chili with meat), also known as simply 'chili'  originated in San Antonio, Texas in the 1880’s as a way of stretching available meat in the kitchen of the poor Tejanos (persons of Mexican descent born and living in Texas)...

The original Texas-style ‘chili’ was originally a spicy stew made from beef, venison and other meats, lots of chili peppers and tomatoes.  Due to poverty, beans such as black beans, red or white beans, black-eyed beans, kidney or pinto beans were added. 

The word 'chili' comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec Indian language) 'chilli' which means chili peppers and 'carne', is Spanish for meat.

In the 1880's, San Antonio was a tourist destination. From there Texas-style chili con carne spread throughout the South and West of America. 

Mexican American women sold chilis in bowls around the public places in downtown San Antonio. They were called the 'chili queens'. They appeared at sundown wearing colorful Mexican costumes. They set up wood fire to re-heat pots and pots of pre-cooked chili. 

The taste and aroma of hot chili attracted the passersby. More so because while the costumers were eating on the street, they were serenaded by the mariachi street musicians. 

Mariachi is a form of folk music from Mexico. Musicians dressed as peasant farmers (white pants and white shirt) and played with string instruments such as violin, guittaron, guitarra de golpe, vihuela, guitar, trumpet and accordion.

O wow! what a way to enjoy eating  chili! with beautiful traditional Mexican music playing. No wonder the chili sold like hotcakes. The chili queens were serving bowls and bowls of chili to satisfied costumers.

Today, chili con carne is the official dish of the US State of Texas.

Here is my recipe for vegetarian chili, also known as 'chili sin carne' (chili without meat)


1 1/2 c red beans
1 tsp baking soda
1 pc green or red bell pepper (chopped finely)
2 Tbsp leeks or spring onion

1/4 c fresh tomatoes
4 pcs tokwa or 1 block tofu (mashed, fried)
1 tsp crushed peppercorn

1 pack tomato paste (150g)
1/4 tsp chili powder or 

1 tsp chopped fresh chili pepper (labuyo)
2 Tbsp Adobo or Menudo Mix powder
sugar, salt
pepper, soy sauce

Procedure:1. Soak beans in water overnight. Add 1 tsp baking soda to the soaking water.

2. Wash and boil beans until tender. Drain the beans saving the boiled beans water. Set aside.

3. Saute leeks or spring onions in oil. Add tomatoes and chili powder or fresh chopped chili peppers (labuyo) according to desired hotness. Cook very well. 

4. Add green or red pepper, tomato paste and the boiled beans water. Add a little more water if needed. Season with salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce, adobo or menudo mix powder and seasoning. Cover and simmer.

4. Add boiled red beans. Cover and boil again. When sauce is a bit dry, add fried tofu or tokwa. Remove from heat. Serve.

Home Cooking with Nona Lema You Tube Channel

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