Chilli for Bonfire Night

Perfect Chilli for Bonfire Night

The nights are closing in, the clocks are about to go back and it’s time to find those chunky scarves and hats and those not so sexy thermals! As we prepare for Halloween and Bonfire Night, here’s a perfect recipe from @CeginSian to warm you up and keep the whole family happy on these freezing dark nights!

I’m not a huge fan of Bonfire Night. I’m not a big fan of any enforced jollity, apart from Christmas, just because it’s a certain date and everybody else is doing so. As far as I can tell, these events fall into two categories, those that have come from America, and the rest.

I feel that Halloween has been shoved down our throats for the past generation. I don’t remember all this frenzy about pumpkins and vampires when I was a child. Same goes for Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day.

I’ve got mixed feelings about Bonfire Night, however. This ‘festival’ was definitely part of my childhood. The streets of Cardiff in the 70s were scattered with young boys asking for a ‘penny for the Guy’ so that they could buy fireworks and plonk their Guy on top of the bonfire. This custom seems to have disappeared. I also remember all the short information films on TV about the dangers of fireworks, and the annual horror story of someone being seriously injured after approaching that firework that hadn’t ignited only for it to explode unexpectedly.

Bonfire Night coincided with winter’s arrival, the early, early dark nights and Gareth’s birthday party. Gareth lived in the house that backed onto ours in Lisvane, Cardiff. His parties were OK but I didn’t know anyone because I went to the Welsh school and Gareth and his friends went to the local primary in Lisvane; I was the sole little Welshie.

I remember eating hot dogs thinking how delicious and exotic they were. And as with every birthday party I longed to have my piece of cake to take home, wrapped in a paper napkin, the icing fused to the paper and the sponge squashed between my excited little fingers as I walked home.

Chilli was never on the menu; it would be a good decade before Welsh kitchens added hot spices to the humble mince let alone serve a good chilli on Bonfire Night to celebrate the demise of the wretched Guy. Hot dogs were also on the menu when my kids were invited every year to a celebration on 5th November reminiscent of my own childhood and my husband and I are forever thankful that we never had to ignite a single rocket or Catherine Wheel.

I’m sure a good chilli would be lovely on o starry, starry night. A cold, cold night with compulsory gloves, scarf and a vest. And here’s a recipe for everyone – it’s meaty enough for the veggie haters to enjoy, and in the darkness, it’s impossible to see that it’s not mince here but lentils, lovely lentils. Grate some Cheddar on top and add a dollop of yoghurt and serve on a galaxy of white fluffy rice.

The all-pleasing chilli


Olive oil

1 onion chopped

4 garlic cloves

1cm piece of ginger chopped

1 tbsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp. smoked paprika

3×400 tins toms

300g green lentils, soaked

200g bulgur wheat, pearl barley or brown rice

1tbsp cocoa

400g small beans (haricot, black or black eyed) or 300g home cooked

1-2 l veg stock

Salt and pepper


Cook onion, garlic, ginger for 10 mins

Add spices and stir for 1-2 mins

Add all other ingredients stirring as you go – but start with 1 litre of stock and keep rest to add if chilli starts to look dry

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down heat, simmer for 30-35 mins

Mam Cymru would like to thank @CeginSian for sharing this tasty winter warmer! If you have some family favourites to share with our readers, we’d love to have them (and try them!) email

By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru

*Here’s a list of some top Bonfire Nights planned in Wales in 2018 by Wales Online

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