Talking Tex-Mex

Driven by my cooking passion and my habit of trying out new recipes, one day I bought one more cooking book from the Periplus Mini Cookbooks. I was intrigue by its title ‘Tex-Mex’.

The book says that the phrase ‘Tex-Mex’ is not a trendy term coined by some food writer or a funny name of a Mexican restaurant – it is a geographical fact. Tex-Mex is the border between Mexico and Texas which separates two different countries but where food is concerned, the line blurs. Tex-Mex relies heavily on traditional Mexican, therefore often Spanish ingredients and recipes but there is also a strong American influence.

What I love about the recipes in Tex-Mex cooking book is because most of the recipes use chili and I am a chili lover. Over the pages I read some familiar dishes such as tacos, nachos and chili con carne which I have tried in Amigos, one famous Mexican restaurant in Jakarta. There are other recipes which are less familiar: Texan Beef Chili, Potato Skin with Chili Con Queso and Chicken Tamales and many more.

I decided to try out one of the less familiar recipes. I was attracted to the recipe of Texan Beef Chili. It has short ingredient list and relatively simple cooking method. The seasoning ingredients are onions, garlic, cumin and chili. Simple enough but wait a minute……..cumin? my family do not like the strong smell of cumin (in Bahasa we call jinten).

So now what? Should I skip this one and try out other recipe? Or should I just skip the cumin? Or should I cover the strong smell of cumin with other ingredient? But what ingredient?

 When the cooking gets tough, the tough gets creative
Here comes my version of TEXAN BEEF CHILI
  • 500 gram beef silver meat or chuck tender
  • 5 tablespoons of all purpose seasoned flour to coat (the original recipe use plain flour)
  • 100 gram button mushroom or 1 red bell pepper (capsicum), cut into small pieces
  • 5 table spoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Five Spice powder (as substitute of ground cumin)3 teaspoons of chili powder
  • Cook the meat in batches over medium heat until brown and remove from the pan.
  • 2 teaspoons of beef stock powder diluted in 100 ml water (as an alternative to liquid beef stock)

In the original recipe, the ingredients do not include button mushroom and/or red pepper. I add button mushroom to the recipe to give more volume while the red bell pepper can give more color to the dish.


  • Cut the meat into small cubes
  • Toss in the seasoned flour until coated, then shake off the excess
  •  Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan and cook the flour-coated meat cubes over medium heat until brown.
  • Remove the meat from the pan

  • Put the chopped onion in the pan and cook until soft and golden
  • Add the garlic and chili powder, cook and stirring continuously for around 1 minutes
  • Put in the button mushroom and/or red bell pepper, stir occasionally until mix well with the seasonings

  • Return the meat to the pan
  • Add the Five Spice powder
  • Add the beef stock and stirring frequently to scrape up the spices from the bottom of the pan
  • Reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick
  • Serve with white rice

My improvised Texan Beef Chili worked! 


The substitution from plain flour to all purpose seasoned flour makes the beef more tasty and Five Spice powder seems to be a perfect ingredient to substitute the cumin.

My family love it. One of my colleagues in the office has been begging me to share the recipe (I told her that it’s a secret recipe).

Well, here is the recipe my friend. Now you may try it, it’s no longer secret recipe.

Notes and Tips

For the seasoned flour I use one of the so many brands of all purpose seasoned flour available in the market. But we can also use plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
When I ran out of button mushroom, I used red bell pepper cut into small cubes and it worked well too…



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