Smoky Chipotle-Cocoa-Masala Spiced Vegetarian Chili

By • March 16, 2011 • 2 Comments



Author Notes: Having grown up in California, I don't know much about Southern food. My idea of Southern comfort is a big bowl of chili and a slice of hearty cornbread. I love the process of making chili - it is not so much about the precise recipe but the rhythm of stirring and simmering and tasting and adding in ingredients as you see fit, so there is a lot of room for variation in this recipe. Use whatever beans you have on hand. If you want it spicier, add more chili powder or a chopped habanero pepper. If you want it sweeter, add some more molasses. Try it with more or less cocoa powder. Taste as you go. I like my chili smoky with a deep rich flavor. This chili is just that - pleasantly spicy but also sweet. Since this chili has no meat, it relies on a variety of spices for flavor, and the combination of cocoa, chipotle, and garam masala spice is what makes this chili stand out. Next time I make this, I am going to add 2 tablespoons of almond butter or peanut butter to give it a richer taste. nataleiigh

Serves 4-8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 pieces garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes (1 can)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste (1 can)
  • 30 ounces water (equivalent to 2 cans of water)
  • 45 ounces canned beans (equivalent of 3 cans) - pinto, kidney, black beans, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ground pepper (to taste)
  1. In a large pot, heat oil.
  2. Add garlic and sautee for 1-2 minutes until brown. Add onions and sautee 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add bay leaves.
  3. Add bell peppers and carrots. Sautee 3-4 minutes, stirring as you go.
  4. Add all spices, molasses, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil. Then turn heat down to medium and simmer for at least 40 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  5. Add beans, bring to boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour until chili is thick. Add salt and pepper and season to taste. Serve with cornbread, sour cream, cheese, or whatever your heart desires. (Crumbling 100% cornmeal cornbread into this chili tastes amazing)
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Tags: chili, comfort food, Southern, stew

Comments (2) Questions (0)

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over 3 years ago allinonepot

Thanks for this recipe nataleiigh! I skipped the molasses and added corn for sweetness. I also added one tablespoon of peanut butter and one of almond butter and liked it a lot. The only thing I would modify next time is less chili powder, it is way to spicy for me. I'm going to try adding yogurt tomorrow to see if it cools it down. Thanks!

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over 3 years ago susan g

I have to try this: the flavors are calling me!