Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Just like the changing seasons in a year, life is never in one constant phase and is interspersed with happiness and sadness, joy and grief, tears and laughter! I was not exactly in high spirits due to certain events in my life when the fall happened!

My precious toddler hurt himself when he accidentally fell off his tricycle, a toy around which he was generally very safe. The cut was quite deep and the doctor had to suture his wound. For us as parents who visited the doctor only for routine vaccinations, curing minor maladies with home remedies, it was a nightmare to go through the whole process. Welcome to a new chapter in parenthood!

For all those who sent me mails and messages and eagerly awaited a christmas post, I'm sorry to disappoint. I took my own time to heal and with the support of my incredible family, my husband, parents and sister and my cheerful and bouncing with life baby, I'm back on track.

I spontaneously decided to make a chili to make myself and my better half feel better. Some spicy vegetarian chili with plain rice or bread, a one pot kind of a meal, the sort of food that Ro adores! With sour cream or hung yogurt and some guacamole as accompaniment this can turn into an elegant affair.

But I decided to keep it simple and served it with plain rice. The chili is enriched with so many complex yet subtle flavours with so many ingredients going into it that it doesnt require anything else. It is also bursting with protein in the form of the kidney beans and crumbled paneer cheese, a trick I picked up from the vegetarian classic, Great Vegetarian Dishes.

This chili is perfect for winter, when it is chilly outside and one years for warm and comforting food. It is spicy, tangy and rich with nutrients. You can have it for lunch and dinner or brunch even paired with a simple rice dish or with your favourite bread. You can also make it a part of an elaborate party menu. I see that this will be beautiful in a buffet or a sit down lunch or dinner when you have planned a mixed cuisine or even a Mexican menu.

As this year draws to an end, I'm in a reflective mood and pondering over the major incidents of my life. The coming year will also be filled with happiness and sadness, joy and grief, tears and laughter. I wish all of you a very happy new year and the strength and resilience to witness and experience what life has to offer. And I end this post with the serenity prayer "Lord, give me the strength to change the things that can be changed, accept those that cannot, and have the wisdom to know the difference".

Spicy Vegetarian Chili Recipe

 This recipe is adapted from the book "Great Vegetarian Dishes" by Kurma Das. You can also replace the kidney beans with black beans and add more vegetables like carrots to make this into a one pot meal. You can replace the cheese with tofu for a vegan version.


270 gm (1 1/4 cups) kidney beans*

45 ml (3 tbsp) oil

2 green chilies (deseeded if you can't handle the heat!)

1/2 tsp asafetida

2 to 3 sticks of celery, cut into tiny pieces

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

540 gm (2 cups) tomatoes, blended into a puree

1 tsp brown sugar

175 gm (1/2 cup) corn, cooked

1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 tsp red chili powder or to taste

2 tsp dried parsley or 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp thyme

2 tsp salt or to taste

200 gm (1 cup) crumbled fresh cheese (paneer cheese)*



Clean, wash and soak the kidney beans overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours. Drain and cook* the kidney beans with 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) water in a pressure cooker. Alternatively use a sauce pan. Reserve the water.

In a saucepan or a wok (I used a Le Creuset buffet casserole dish), heat the oil. Put in the chilies, asafetida and celery sticks and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the chopped bell peppers and cook for a few minutes more until the pepper turn soft.

Put in ground tomatoes and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until the oil separates. Stir in the sugar to balance the tart flavour of the tomatoes. Add the corn,  all the spices and the rest of the ingredients.. Cook until the tomato is dry and all the water is absorbed.

Stir in the cooked kidney beans along with the reserved water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the paneer, mix well and cook for a couple of minutes more.  Serve hot or at room temperature with plain steamed rice or breads of your choice.


* For detailed instructions to cook rajma, refer to this post!

* To make fresh cheese in a jiffy, refer to this post!

Serves 4 to 6 

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38 thoughts on “Spicy Vegetarian Chili

  1. Anushruti,

    I am sorry to hear about the unpleasant events you have been going through. I can imagine what a nightmare it must have been. Hope your son has recovered completely now and is back to his cheery self now. Beautiful post as always and I would be trying it soon. Since I am a vegetarian, I don't even know how chili is supposed to taste but I am sure it will be excellent.

    Wish you a very happy new year and hope this year turns out to be a very happy one for you.


  2. Hi Anu,

    Happy New Year to you & your family!!

    So sorry to hear about your son, wishing him speedy recovery.
    Dont worry he will be fine soon. God bless him!!


  3. Hi !
    Always refreshing to glance through your recipes ,
    Love it
    But to be frank , I really don't enjoy your personal life which looks common for most of us .
    Kindly keep the matter limited to the blog type or else your blog would look like a recipe .
    Regards .

  4. @Amit – Au Contraire , the personal touch is what makes the site special to me. Knowing the story behind each dish has a charm of its own. In fact, most blogs and sites which are popular nowadays have a personal touch. The writers of such sites take the pain to test out the recipes in their own kitchen, make amendments to it, keep the failures to themselves and help novices like me manage to get it right and I am so grateful for it. It is inevitable that there would be a personal touch while doing all this.

    @Anushruti – Anu, ever since I first visited your site, I am hooked. I have tried a few dishes and everything has come out brilliantly. I plan to try this tomorrow as I am on leave and want to pamper myself :). I wish your son a speedy recovery and loads of happiness and good things in life. A very happy new year to you and your family.

  5. @Amit- Now you will dictate what goes on this site and what doesn't? This is Anushruti's space and what she likes and wills will go on it. Besides, those who cook from the heart look for recipes that hearten and warm their families. Such stories enhance not just the reading itself, but also the appeal of the food.

    @Anushruti- Keep up the fabulous work you are doing of which some people are evidently jealous of. Every bit of your posts are looked forward to by all those who follow your blog, me included.

  6. @Amit, This is her space she can put anything she wants. If you don't want to read her stories you can always scroll down to the recipe. Even cookbooks have introductions like this type. Pick up 660 curries or Cooking with Pedhata, you will know why those books are a hit.

    @Anu, please don't stop adding your personal touch cos people are drawn to that.

  7. @sh @simi @anushruti
    I really didn't knew that POSITIVE & ONLY are hidden in 'add a ********(positive) comment ****(only).So sorry to have put forward my view in a blog which seems like only a family blog……keep up with the good work and wish you a tasty and healthy 2012 !

  8. Amit, I think people were offended because you asked to keep the matter limited to "blog type". Just because you do not enjoy something does not mean noone else does. It has nothing to do with family. I am nowhere related to Anushruti's family from any angle, don't even stay in Mumbai. Yet, Personally speaking, I enjoy the stories and the personal touch a lot, it's just individual preference. Do not take offense, just skip the stories and scroll down to recipes, simple:). Have a good year 🙂

    Anushruti, a brilliant post as usual. Love the photos. I will try this during the weekend and report back on the outcome. Sorry about your son, I hope he is fine now. Happy new year!

  9. Oh by the way, I am a different person than the first commenter :). Just in case someone thinks the same person is posting the same thing again and again….:)

  10. Dear Amit,
    At the outset, I would really appreciate, if you could get your 'English Grammar', right! 🙂 'I didn't knew', seriously sounds, preposterous, ridiculous and downright CHEEEEEEESY!!!, to say the least!! Next, as the famous saying goes – Opinions are like ass*****, everyone has one!! 🙂

    So, I would sincerely appreciate, if you could keep your viewpoints to yourself, cause, they are not lending themselves to constructive criticism!

    Anushruti, I love your work! Keep it up!! :))


  11. Amit: This is a place I come to for inspiration. The stories, pictures and the food have made many drab days better. DivineTaste is a very popular blog with thousands of visitors from around the world and so don't demean it by calling it a family type blog. You come across to be an opinionated and small minded person and you have no right to police around somebody else's place. This is one of my most favourite spaces in the web and if you don't like anything here, feel free not to visit instead of creating disharmony in an otherwise serene place. Besides wasting our precious time!

    Anushruti: Mind blowing pictures and great writing! The recipe looks very interesting and delicious too. And let not such malicious characters dampen your spirits in any way. For one "Amit" you have hundreds of other followers who are great fans of your work!

  12. Whoa, I think everyone is taking this far too seriously. I really don't think Amit's comments were malicious or driven by jealousy. He just expressed his own thoughts which unfortunately most of us do not agree with. But, with all due respect to all of you, I really do not think it is in our place to tell someone not to visit the site. Like many of you pointed out, this is Anushruti's space and only she has the right to do that.

    Having said that, I do agree with Aditya though. What does "your blog would look like a recipe" even mean??? 🙂 🙂

    Anyway, I think it's time to just stop this conversation and enjoy the post instead.

    Anu, i reiterate others' opinions – your site is awesome and I come here not only for recipes but also for the personal touch. So please do not change a thing about it 🙂 Thank you for your awesome work.

  13. चूक झ।ली 
    डिडंट कनो 
    Thanks Shobha .
    @Aditya , a grammatical error is better than abusive jargon on a divine blog , as I feel .
    @all , my last post ….to save time and energy for constructive thinking and grow intellectual property !!

  14. Dear Anu,

    Its parenting the journey of learning the pains of love…I came across your blog looking for a cheesecake recipe..and Wow am delighted. Thank you for reminding us here that it is okay and wonderful to be vegetarian. I live in a society of it being cool to eat meat and devour anything without thought, so its kinda uphill.

    Your curry recipe looks lovely, i have no challenges making spicy and savourty dishes. Tis the cake and the baking without eggs that comes with a oh how I am gonna do this this.

    I must say that Amit's comments are so ungracious and if he is viewing your blog he needs to be a humble guest..so I think no excuses to this Amit..just show some respect.

    Thank you for your New's Years message as well.

    with much love and light from the South of Africa
    OM Shanti.

  15. Okay, I have been silently reading all the comments and now its time for me to speak! I'm really touched and feel humbled with all the genuine readers and supporters that I have.

    Poornima, Lata, Gayathri: Thank you for your wishes and concern.

    Amit: Thank you for your comment, but for it I wouldnt have experienced the love and support from so many people! Having said that, I would like to say to you and to anyone else who might be interested that a single post brings together three passions of mine, writing, photography and food. The way all three streams merge into a post is nothing but a "piece of art" for me. Any creative person, be it a painter, a film maker, a poet or an architect will experience the entire process from start to finish by envisioning the creative pursuits in a certain way which is individual to that person and the end product has their distinct style. It is the same for me.
    Food for me is/has and will always be associated with memories and experiences. I simply can't disassociate them, it is just not me!

    darshani: The ingredients and flavours are totalyy different. If you try it you will know that this dish is not similar to dal makhani at all!

    Shobha, Simi, SJ, Priya, Poornima, Aditya, Diana, belinda: Thank you. I really appreciate your sentiments.

  16. Hi Anu, So sorry to hear about little Hari's accident. Hope he is recovering fast. And, if you ask me, it is that personal touch to your posts that I enjoy the most! Not just me, many of those to whom I have suggested your site. Each and every post of yours is truly a piece of art and a source of joy to the readers! Please keep it going as it is… 🙂 This again is a wonderful post.

  17. I know exactly what you mean and went through. I was more emotionally traumatized by the incident then my son when he cut himself on the forehead last august, of all days, on my hubby's birthday. Add to that the inefficiency of the hospital staff and i was a volcano of emotion boiling to erupt. He has a light scar to commemorate his first accident ;(. BUT your dish looks great as always. Cheers!

  18. Thanks for your concern Pam. Hari is doing well now and his scar is hardly visible…thanks to my wonderful paediatrician who took things under her wing and organized the best possible for me in this city.

  19. Thank you so much for this post and recipe! Since I am unfamiliar with asafetida, do you happen to know of anything I can substitute for this ingredient? Thank you!

  20. Suzy: I have used asafetida as a substitute for onions and garlic. It is great for digestion and when used in the right quantity brings out the flavours. I would suggest you give it a try. You might love it.

  21. Hi,

    Prepared this lovely dish.It was awesome.Got lots of praises, all thanks to you.
    And my kid who is not fond of Rajma or capsicum, loved this curry.I just added cooked brown rice and cooked for a while to make it a one pot meal and it was really very very good, tasty and colourful.This is a keeper.If i need to cook, the first thing that comes to my mind is this lovely curry and it has hooked me so much.Thank You.

  22. Hi anushruti,
    Have made this chilli for dinner…. Just had a taste, it is just outstanding…. The aroma is so tempting don't think will wait for dinner!! Thanks

  23. Hi Anushruti,

    This is the first time writing to you, however i have been following you on Youtube and also on this blog. First of all, I am grateful to you to work on recipes that are Satvic, yet deliciously cooked.

    I have tired the Chilly recipe atleast 4 – 5 time now, each time with different set of friends. Once with the Foccacia recipe of yours. Once for a community gathering of 30. EAch time with roaring success and request for the recipes.

    Is there a better way to quickly cook beans? overnte soaking and then pressure cooking take a lot of time and this recipe is such a comfort food with toasted bread, wanted to know if it can be done faster ;P

    Thank you very much!!
    KM Das

  24. KMDas- Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your inputs. For a quicker method, you can cover the rajma in cold water and bring it to a boil for 2 minutes and then allow it to soak in hot water for an hour. Then, you can proceed as usual.

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