Chili sin carne or the Vegetarian Chili is a mexican savory delight. Often served along side warm tortillas or nacho chips, this is a great one pot dish to savour on a cool breezy day. Today, i am trying my hands at this flavorful dish for the first time with my interpretation and hope to capture within, some rustic flavors of Mexico!
Living just a few miles away from Mexico in San Diego, i have been tempted to try Mexican cuisine every now and then. Mexico seems to have a big influence on the culture and food preferences here in San Diego. One of the first things i had gauged after shifting here, apart from the bright sun and the heat, was the abundances of Mexican eateries around. Every corner seemed to be serving tortillas and munching on Nachos. For someone who absolutely adored Mexican food in Canada, San Diego is probably the next best place to Mexico for finding the authentic Mexican food. The local stores here are usually stocked with the basic Mexican ingredients such as chilies peppers, beans, tortillas, nachos and salsas which makes it easier to experiment with this cuisine.
I have tried cooking some Mexican food back in Canada and loved it. Tried making fresh Guacamole (recipe here) , the ultimate comfort food – Nachos Tex Mex (recipe here) and the decadent Churros (recipe here) … with each dish, my love for Mexican food just grew more and more.
Mexican food is fresh, zesty, chunky and focus around using a lot of vegetables, legumes and spices which i relate with Indian cuisine to a great extent. No wonders i find a different kind of satisfaction while preparing Mexican food 🙂
Ever since i shifted to San Diego, i have been experimenting with the authentic Mexican ingredients and enjoying myself. Just last week, i tried my hands at the famous Tamale. It was a new experience for me and i had so much fun working with corn husks and Masa (corn meal dough). Now, i have a big batch of vegetarian Tamales in my freezer … so the recipe for Tamale is in queue and i shall post that soon !
Now, about this dish below, i tried reading through a couple of recipes online and asked a Mexican friend about the preparation. As i got to know, Chili is a general stew dish and every family has their own traditional recipe for the same. With the snippets i have been able to gather from various sources, here is the concoction of all of those along with my interpretation mixed together in a pot which i like to call Vegetarian Chipotle Chili
Vegetarian Chipotle Chili
- Chilies – 3-4 new mexico chilies, 4-5 Indian whole dried red chilies (this can get intense so adjust the chilies as per your taste)
- 1 chipotle red chili (in Adobo sauce)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1.5 cups red kidney beans, boiled
- 0.5 cups pinto beans, boiled (optional)
- 3-4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2-3 tomatillo (optional), roughly chopped
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 celery , roughly chopped
- 1 zuchini, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup corn
- 2 tablespoons vodka (optional). You can also use Vinegar in place of Vodka
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds, powdered
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano powder
- Water/Vegetable stock as required
- Sour Cream
- Fresh chopped coriander
- We begin with soaking the chilies in warm water for 10 minutes or till the chilies rehydrate a bit. After they rehydrate, churn them in a chopper to a thick paste. Add in the chipotle chili with the adobo sauce in this mixture and mix well. This will be very spicy so be careful while handling them. Wearing gloves are recommended.
- Take a thick bottomed pan. Add in oil and bring to heat. Next add in chopped onions, garlic, celery, carrots and zuchini in the pan and saute on high for a couple of minutes. The high heat will roast the onions well but be sure not to burn them.
- Next, add in the chopped tomatoes and tomatillo and mix well. Add in the salt, black pepper powder, oregano powder and saute on medium high for a minute. Now, cover the pan with lid and let this cook on simmer for about 10 minutes. The tomatoes will be soft and the flavours will start to mingle.
- Now, add in the red kidney, pinto bean and corn and combine. Add in the required amount of water (about 2 cups of water), soy sauce, roasted cumin seeds and vodka and mix well. Let it come to a boil and then cover the pan with a lid and let it cook on low heat for about 30 minutes. The Vegetarian Chili is ready. You can also do this in a crockpot and cook it on a low setting for 1-1.5 hours. The rule with the Chili goes : “More slow cooking, more the flavour”
I made this dish in the morning and had it later that evening. The resting period works great for stew dishes as the spices get time to mingle with the ingredients and release their true flavours. The Chili was amazing by itself and i served a big bowl with fresh chopped coriander and sour cream on top. Try this dish with some Monterey jack cheese + Poblano chili Quesadilla and i can guarantee you that you would be back for a second serving ! Enjoy !