Colorful Vegetarian Chili

The following recipe was my award winning chili recipe for the chili cook-off at work. I was so honored and excited to win that I had to share my recipe and this was the right motivation for someone who has not updated her food blog in 6 months! This recipe may look long but its pretty easy to cook.
Traditionally Chili is a spicy meat stew, made with beans and vegetables. The classic vegetarian version of the chili recipe makes use of different types of beans like red beans, black beans, pinto beans etc., along with an assortment of vegetables and spices. Chilis usually have a kick to them due to the spice factor and make great comfort foods when the weather is cold. They are a meal by themselves – soupy and chunky! My version of the vegetarian chili was inspired by Paneer Tikka and Rajma Masala. So I blended my two favorite recipes and used some exotic spices to come up with my Indian style chili 🙂

Paneer is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is of Indian origin. Unlike most cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent, thus making it completely lacto-vegetarian and providing a source of protein for vegetarians. Paneer usually takes on the taste of the other vegetables and sauces in which it is tossed making it extremely delicious. In this case Paneer was a wonderful meat substitute.

To be Mixed into a Marinade
  • Non-fat Greek or any plain thick yogurt
  • 2 cloves of grated garlic
  • 1.5 inches of grated ginger
  • Equal amounts of the following spices (per taste preferences). I started with 3 tsp and adjusted the seasonings depending on the heat level required
  • Coriander powder
  • Red chilli powder
  • Smoky chipotle paprika seasoning
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Red chilli and garlic paste
  • Dried Mango Powder – 1 tsp
  • Pinch of turmeric (always a pinch)
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil – 1 tsp
Vegetables and Paneer
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 each of Green, Yellow, Orange and Red bell pepper
  • Few small cauliflower florets
  • 1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes – your choice
  • 1 pack of paneer
For the Sauce / Gravy
  • 2 medium sized onions – finally chopped
  • 1 inch of finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 can of red kidney beans – roughly crushed in a blender
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
Following spices per taste: Salt, Cumin Powder,Coriander Powder,Cajun Seasoning, Chipotle Paprika seasoning, Small bunch of Cilantro
For the Marinade: Unceremoniously dump all spices along with the grated ginger and garlic into the yogurt and whisk well. Leave the mix alone until you get the veggies ready to soak in the marinade.
The veggies and Paneer: Now that the marinade is ready for some action, chop all the veggies in chunks.
  • Peel the onions into layers till you cry!
  • When that’s done, move on to the cauliflowers and bell peppers. Chop them into medium sized chunks.
  • Cube the paneer into chunks just like the veggies
  • Throw the veggies and paneer into the marinade and using a spatula, make sure that the marinade is evenly coated all over the veggies.
  • Leave the bowl and do something else like walking your dogs, reading a book, working out (anything you please) while the veggies get to know the marinade. Check in on them after 2-3 hours

Roasting the Veggies and Paneer: Scoop out all veggies and the paneer from the marinade and place them on a hot grill plate and cook them for a few minutes on each side. (Like me) If you don’t have a grill just toss the veggies in batches in a non-stick sauce pan and keep them aside. I like the bell peppers to retain some crunch. Save any remaining marinade for use in another recipe.

The Sauce / Gravy:
  • Add some olive oil to a non-stick sauce pan. When the oil is hot enough add some cumin seeds until they dance around.
  • Add the finely chopped onions and sauté them till they turn golden brown. Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic and sauté for few more minutes.
  • Dump the can of diced tomatoes and cook them till the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.
  • Add all the spices and sauté well. Add the red kidney beans mixture and mix well. Cook until the sauce becomes thick. Add water as necessary to increase the quantity or decrease the consistency of the sauce.
  • At this stage check the taste and add more spices if required.
  • Add all the roasted veggies into the gravy and mix well.
  • Reduce the heat and continue cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables cook. Do not cook them to death! They are tasty when they retain their crunch.
  • Add more water if the gravy starts getting thick.
  • Add some finely chopped cilantro (as much or as less as you wish) while the chili is cooking.
  • Switch of the stove and garnish with a blob of butter or grated Parmesan cheese or both. If you don’t care for either the butter or cheese skip this step.
  • Serve hot with some pita bread or as is with a dash of hot sauce (if you like more heat)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s