Chilli con marmite and the war against “authenticity”

The war against authenticity can be summed up thusly*

I don’t care if it’s authentic, I just want it to be nice

The conversations (in my head) go like this:

Poncey person: Of course real Italian peasants would never have put in tomatoes.

Me: D’you think that might be because they were, you know, peasants? They were poor and the nearest tomatoes were in South America, or perhaps gracing the table of some nobles who were busy trying to figure out if it was a poison of an aphrodisiac. If they could have just nipped to Budgens they might very well have put tomatoes in.

Other poncey person: Of course these dishes have been extensively modified for the Western palate, so much so as to be barely recognisable.

Me: Good, because a Western palate is the one I’m eating with so that’s the one I want to be catered to thanks.

That is why I have decided to make some chilli con carne with Marmite.

Dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!

Yes, Marmite. I’m not even a Marmite-lover, although as you have guessed by my having it in the house and choosing ot put it in my food I am not exactly a Marmite-hater.

I am also putting in two kinds of beans. Jamie Oliver has kidney beans and chickpeas in his (I think from Ministry of Food), I am going for kidney beans and black beans. I got a bit obsessed with black beans after I went to San Diego, and annoyingly they are quite hard to find. Lots of supermarkets have tinned chickpeas and kidney beans and butter beans and pinto beans, but hardly any seem to have black beans. I finally found them in Sainsburys (organic and in a carton, but pre-soaked/cooked), but before that happy event I’d already bought some dried so this batch will be made with beans that I soaked overnight and boiled first to get them to the cooking-ready state of tinned beans.

Black beans

One of these is much easier to cook with than the other

The other ingredient of note is the chillis, and again I am using chillis from my own plants. This variety is called “ring of fire” – they are about 6cm long and have a slightly smoky flavour. The plants are beginning to feel the winter a bit now and so there are a few less-than-pretty leaves, but I am keeping them until all the existing chillis go red.

Ring of fire chillis

Some of the leaves are a bit dead, but the chillis are lovely

So… in here we have onions, garlic, chillis, cumin, mince, tomatoes, tomato puree, black beans, kidney beans, and marmite. I think that’s all.

Chilli in a pan


It doesn’t taste of Marmite, it tastes of umami. Savoury and mmm and moreish. And not massively different to how my chilli normally tastes to be honest. Maybe I’ll put in some more next time.

*I also don’t care if “thusly” is correct usage, in the spirit of this post it sounds good so it will do


5 thoughts on “Chilli con marmite and the war against “authenticity”

  1. Love your attitude. Without the desire to experiment and adapt, food would never progress. Keep it up. By the way, Marmite ir Bovril are great additions to a stew. You get gerat beefy flavour, salt and that little bit extra that is indefinable but adds something unique (not quite unique but different).
    Keep at it.

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  3. Pingback: I love my slow cooker – Chinese duck pancakes | screenfulofwords

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