Chilli Con Carne

When thinking about a post for National Chili Day the first thing that came to mind was obviously chilli con carne.   After all, this is a day typically celebrated in the United States and dedicated to the appreciation of chilli as a hearty and spicy stew. However, whilst researching for the post I realised that there are so many more culinary delights to enjoy on this day.

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National Chili Day

The best chilli dish can be subjective, but classic American chilli with ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and spices is hugely popular. There are of course variations of this classic.  For example, Texas-style chilli often excludes beans and Cincinnati chilli is a unique variation served over spaghetti.  Other variations include vegetarian chilli, white chicken chilli, and even slow-cooked chilli with brisket.

Chilli Worldwide

In the US, the traditional chilli dish can vary in ingredients and spice levels, allowing for personal preferences and regional influences. Whether it’s served in a bowl, over fries, or atop a hot dog, chilli has diverse interpretations that make it a versatile and beloved dish.  But, how is chilli enjoyed in other countries around the world?  Here are some examples of some very varied chilli dishes. These examples highlight the global diversity of chilli-infused dishes, showcasing how various cultures incorporate spice into their culinary traditions. Each country brings its unique twist, making chilli a versatile and cherished element in global cuisine.

Mexican Chile con Carne

This is the original chilli dish on which US versions are based.  Chile con Carne features a rich blend of various chilies, meats (commonly beef), and spices. It can be enjoyed on its own or served with tortillas.

Indian Chilli Chicken

A popular Indo-Chinese fusion dish, Chilli Chicken consists of crispy chicken pieces tossed in a spicy and flavorful sauce made with chilli, garlic, and soy sauce.

Korean Kimchi Jjigae

A spicy and tangy stew made with fermented kimchi, tofu, vegetables, and often pork or beef. It’s a staple in Korean cuisine, especially during cold seasons.

Turkish Karnabahar Kızartması

Translated as “Fried Cauliflower,” this Turkish dish features cauliflower fried and coated in a spicy tomato-based sauce, showcasing Turkey’s love for bold flavours.

Ethiopian Doro Wat

A spicy chicken stew that’s a cornerstone of Ethiopian cuisine. It incorporates berbere spice, made from chilli peppers and various spices, resulting in a bold and flavorful dish.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Originating in Jamaica, Jerk Chicken involves marinating chicken in a spicy blend of Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and other herbs. It’s often grilled for a smoky flavour.

Hungarian Goulash

A hearty stew featuring meat, typically beef or pork, and vegetables. It includes the Hungarian spice, paprika, which can add a mild heat to the dish

Spanish Patatas Bravas

Patatas bravas typically consist of crispy, fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato-based sauce, known as bravas sauce. The potatoes are usually cut into bite-sized chunks and fried until golden and crunchy. The key component to this dish is of course the bravas sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, paprika, and sometimes a hint of chilli for an extra punch.

Patatas bravas can trace their roots to Madrid, where they first emerged in the early 20th century. This tantalising tapa dish quickly gained popularity in bars and restaurants across the country, becoming a staple in Spanish cuisine.  And while the fundamental elements remain consistent, different regions in Spain put their unique spin on patatas bravas. For instance, in Catalonia, you might find a variation known as “patatas a la brava,” where the potatoes are topped with aioli or a garlic mayonnaise, adding a creamy contrast to the spicy sauce.

Portuguese Piri Piri Chicken

Grilled chicken marinated in a spicy Piri Piri sauce, which includes chilli peppers, garlic, and citrus. This dish reflects Portugal’s influence from its former colonies in Africa.

With Portugal being a five hour drive from our hometown of Gibraltar, we are regular visitors to Portugal.  Of course, Piri Piri chicken is one of our absolute favourite things to enjoy whilst in Portugal.  You can read more about our favourite Piri Piri restaurant here

Italian Arrabbiata Sauce

A pasta sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, and red chilli peppers. “Arrabbiata” translates to “angry” in Italian, reflecting the spiciness of the dish.

Chilli Con Carne

After researching for this post I am really craving patatas bravas . But, as tempted as I am to go in an entirely different direction with this post, I will stick to the traditional reasons for celebrating National Chili Day.  So, Chilli Con Carne it is.  This also allowed for a trip down memory lane as it was one of the first dishes which our eldest cooked for us. 

During lock down, the Scouts encouraged its members to take part in various activities which they could safely do at home.  One of these was working towards their cooking badge.  The meal which was chosen for this challenge was a delicious chilli con carne from BBC Food.

Chilli Con Carne

Recipe by Good


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 large onion

  • 1 red pepper

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (or 1 level tbsp if you only have mild)

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 500g lean minced beef

  • 1 beef stock cube

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes

  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram

  • 1 tsp sugar (or one piece of dark chocolate)

  • 2 tbsp tomato puree

  • 410g can red kidney beans


  • Finely dice your onions.
  • Cut your pepper in half and remove the seeds then chop.
  • Peel and chop 2 garlic cloves.
  • Preheat a Non Stick Pan on a medium heat. add the oil and once hot cook the onion for 5 minutes before adding the garlic, red pepper, chilli powder, paprika and cumin. Stir and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn up the heat on the pan a bit so that you can brown the mince meat. Once browned through, crumble in the beef stock cube into 300ml of hot water and add to the mince.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, marjoram, sugar (or chocolate) and tomato puree. Add some salt and pepper to your personal taste.
  • Bring the whole thing up to a boil and cover with a lid before turning down the heat and simmering for 20 minutes. Be sure to check on the meat occasionally whilst it is simmering so that it doesn’t catch at the bottom of the pan. if you see that the dish is drying add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to the pan, bringing it up to a boil again before cooking gently for a further 10 minutes.
  • Taste your food for extra seasoning and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving with plain boiled rice and sour cream


  • We also like to add lots of cheese to our chilli once served

This chilli is so easy to make but it does not compromise on taste.  So, if you are trying to teach your young adults how to cook for themselves we would recommend giving this recipe a go.

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