This is not a mild, wimpy, chili. It has a traditional chili flavor of onion, garlic, ground chiles, cumin, oregano and coriander, which is instantly identifiable. The addition of Zucchini, Peppadew peppers, Sauerkraut, cranberries, lentils, mushrooms, beans and fire-roasted tomatoes give this chili that “real thing” taste. Serve it with a dollop of cooling Greek-stile yogurt atop each portion, to mellow the heat. A warm crusty bread, crumbled feta or queso fresco cheese, avocado, lime and some diced red onions with fresh cilantro or parsley will complement this chili. I also like to sprinkle some Chow Mein noodles, which add a crunchy texture. Pour a full-bodied white wine and enjoy. —Kukla
• 4 tablespoons Avocado Extra-Virgin or olive oil, divided
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large heavy cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cover and cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano and coriander; sauté 3 minutes.
Add 1 can of the tomatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, lentils and about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to simmer. Cover partially and cook until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, combined remaining can tomatoes, Peppadew peppers, the marinade and 1 tablespoon brown sugar; puree them until smooth.
To the pot with chili add Sauerkraut, cranberries and the tomato-peppadew puree; cook for about 10-15 more minutes.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until juices form, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to high and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Stir mushrooms into chili. Cover partially and cook until flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans. Simmer until chili is very thick, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For best flavor, try to make the chili at least 1 day in advance. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To serve, re-warm gently over low heat until hot.