Birthday vegan BBQ (Part 1) + black bean chili

Hello there!

Some of you may have seen from my Instagram that it was my birthday last week! I had a barbecue to celebrate with some friends. If you're English or have ever been to England, you'll know this isn't exactly straightforward. English summers don't conjure up pictures of balmy beach weather and shorts; more like standing over an underused BBQ equipped with an umbrella and raincoat. So yeah, pretty risky.

And yes, would you believe it, it did rain. I was in complete denial in my funky loose-fitting shirt, but there came a point when all the food was getting wet and I gave in. We all ran inside. The point of the story is I knew this would happen, so all of my prep was buffet-style food that would happily sit alongside a BBQ, but also happily be eaten indoors.

Today I'll share with you what I cooked; I was actually really pleased at how the food went down. I have a grand total of two vegan friends, so to hear compliments about the food from the omnivores was really great.

I made four dishes:

  • Black bean chili sin carne
  • Creamy macaroni pasta salad
  • Middle-eastern cous-cous salad
  • Lots of hummus

Because that's a total of 4 recipes, I don't want to make this into some epicly long post, so on this page I'll just include the black bean chili recipe and put the others in separate posts.

I found the chili super satisfying. It ticked the warming, smoky boxes and had a nice lingering heat. Just remember to customise how spicy you'd like it by upping or reducing the amount of cayenne pepper and fresh chilli. Also, I received some liquid smoke - a smoke-flavoured liquid made by burning wood chips and condensing the smoke particles - for my birthday so I added a few sprays of that. It's not essential, so don't worry if you don't have or can't find it.

Most chili recipes have a touch of sweetness which is why I've used a carrot to be cooked down with the onions. Also, I've used a couple of dates because they break down and become nice and sticky, as well as providing a nutritional bonus over plain sugar. I love the warmth from the spices: ground cumin and smoked paprika, which also add a certain smokiness.

I've been cooking with black beans a lot recently. They are extremely high in dietary fibre and protein, and I find them really satisfying. Their flavour is better if you can be bothered to soak, drain and cook the dried kind, but the tinned variety will be absolutely fine here. I'd recommend garnishing the finished dish with some fresh coriander to boost the Mexican vibe. Serve this at your next BBQ, or just for dinner alongside some rice, guacamole and nachos.

I'll leave with a message to my readers: if you're from England, I do hope you're able to eat this dish outside. And to the rest of you with proper sunny summers: I am very jealous. But enjoy.

black bean chili recipe
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Black Bean Chili Sin Carne

Serves 4
Hands-on time:
30 mins
Hands-off time:
30 mins


3 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
2 large red onions, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
2 Medjool dates, finely chopped
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 fresh jalapeño chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 Romano peppers (long red bell peppers), chopped into small strips
1 green pepper (bell pepper), chopped into small strips
2 x 400g/14oz tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g/14oz tins black beans, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp fine salt
4 sprays liquid smoke (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Sauté the onions and carrot for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the dates, cumin, paprika and the cayenne pepper and cook for 5 minutes. If you like spicy food, double or triple the amount of cayenne pepper.
  3. Add the chilli, garlic and the red and green peppers. Cook for another 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and black beans cook for 5-10 more minutes.
  5. Stir in the vinegar, salt and black pepper. Spray with the liquid smoke if using.
Black Bean Chili Sin Carne | Discover Delicious | | Vegan food

Black Bean Chili Sin Carne | Discover Delicious | | Vegan food