Make It Monday: Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili

Chili without meat?! Is that sacrilege? Well...maybe...but something this good can be enjoyed for it's own sake. (And you know that this one is healthier than the one with meat). Everyone knows I am partial to a steaming Bowl of Red, but I will admit that I make this vegetarian version at home and truly enjoy it.

Here at the Common Housefly Test Kitchen we have been making a conscious effort to make more vegetarian dishes. It is a healthy and inexpensive way to eat and we have found many tasty dishes along the way. This is one of them.

This is a great dish for parties, as it can easily be doubled or tripled. If you use a larger pot, all the cooking times will remain the same. You may easily make it 24 hours ahead of time and then refrigerate it. If the chili thickens too much as it cools, thin it out with a little water when you reheat it.

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons oil

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1/2 large green pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped

  • 1/4 - 1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled sage

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  • 1 cup lentils picked over and washed

  • 1 cup cooked drained red kidney beans (canned is OK, or cook your own dried beans)

  • 2 to 3 canned plum tomatoes, drained and finely chopped

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal


Put the oil in a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion, garlic, green pepper, and jalapeno. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes, or until the seasonings just start to brown. Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue to saute for another 3 minutes. Now put in the cumin, paprika, thyme, sage, oregano, and cayenne. Stir briskly once or twice and put in the lentils, 4 1/2 cups of water, the red kidney beans, plum tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 50 minutes.

Mix the cornmeal with 3 tablespoons hot water and then pour the mixture into the chili pot. Add the corn kernels. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring now and then.

Recipe from Madhur Jaffrey.

recipesMichael Liss