Vegan Chili

A few years back when I worked in the Back Bay area of Boston, my favorite lunch spot was The Otherside Cafe. I would head there weekly to escape the corporate world, enjoying the indie sounds blasting from the stereo, off color art, hipster staff, and unique beer selection. These days I consciously cut back on my meat intake, but back then it was unheard of for me to order a vegetarian item at a restaurant. I got the veggie burrito (a wrap filled with cheese and their vegan chili) on a coworkers suggestion, and totally forgot that it was meatless by the time I was eating it! After that I got it every time I went to Otherside.

Well I stumbled into Otherside this past Friday night with some friends. They ordered the vaguely titled “Nachos”, some chips with a generous helping of the vegan chili and some cheddar cheese on top. When they were halfway done eating, I said to them, can you believe there isn’t meat in there? “What do you mean? There is ground beef right here” Someone said pointing to the chili. That’s when I remembered that I had always wondered what was in the chili that was so beef like! A glance at the menu confirmed that it was bulgur wheat, so I set off to make my own version the next day.

I made a TON of the chili. I am planning on taking it to work all week, and making some burritos and nachos with it. Without meat in the chili, I felt like I should start with raw beans. Plus I wanted this to be as healthy as possible, so this reduced the sodium and preservatives caned beans would add.

Dried chiles for the base. I think theirs is more of a tomato based chili, but I like my chilis to be a tomato-chile hybrid.

Pouring hot veg stock onto the dried chiles.

I think it is key when you cut corn off of the cob to scrape the cob to get all the extra pulp and juices from it.

You can see the pulp just below the cob in this image.

I made soo much chili.

I browned the peppers and onions really well, and the mushroom/zucchini a little less. Next in goes the garlic and tomato paste. Then crushed tomatoes, the blended chile-veg stock mixture, and the beans.

Beans have soaked and then cooked on their own for 45 minutes. They are going to spend their final 45 minutes of cooking in the chili pot.

Beans are just becoming tender, in goes the bulgur.

Yum, soo soo tasty. “Meaty” and delicious.

Super healthy too!

Recipe makes a crazy ton of chili that you will feel guiltless about stuffing your face with all week.

Soak Overnight:
1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried black beans
1 cup small white beans

Fine Dice:
3 jalapenos
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 onions
3 large portobello caps
2 summer squash
1 zucchini

Whole head of garlic

Remove seeds and pour 1 box boiling vegetable stock over:
10 dried guajillo chiles
8 dried ancho chiles
10 dried arbol chiles

Remove kernals from:
6 ears of corn

Toast then grind:
2 tablespoons whole cumin
2 teaspoons whole coriander
1 teaspoon black mustard
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 28oz cans diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
a few tablespoons Chipotle tobasco
1/4 cup brown sugar
cup and a half bulgur wheat

Strain and rince beans. Put in a pot of new water and bring to a boil about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, hot oil in huge pot. Cook onions, peppers, jalapeno for 15 minutes until fairly browned. Salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and squash/zucchini. Cook 5 minutes. Add garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste. Cook 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes. blend up the stock-chile mixture and add that. Taste/add salt and pepper. Add about 3 large tomato cans worth of water. Strain your beans and add to the chili pot. Add spices, sugar and chipotle tobasco. Taste and adjust seasonings. Should be spicy cause corn and bulgar and beans will chill it out a bit. Lightly simmer. When beans are just tender, add bulgur and corn. Lightly simmer till bulgur is tender. Serve!


  1. I made this the other day. It was quite time consuming. The only changes I made were with the dried peppers I couldn’t find the many varieties, and I strained them (since I only have a food processor and no blender Ha). It came out absolutely delicious. I also want to say that when you say it makes a lot, thats an understatement. You need a really BIG pan. Thanks Dan, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Have you ever tired TVP (texture vegetable protein)? maybe its the same…? i make chili ALOT and im always looking for new things to add. When i use tvp,it adds a chicken-like texture to the chili. im on my way to market now,i’ll keep an eye out for bulgar wheat. I just discovered you site and i love it! keep up the awesome work!

  3. just so you know, this is one of my all time favorite recipes. I’ve made it countless times, and even used it when I catered for a young adult camp this past summer. it’s always such a huge hit! I usually leave out the bulgar wheat (it’s still got an awesome texture without it) and add some cocoa powder to compliment the chili flavor. thanks for the awesome recipes!!

  4. I made this a few years ago and it was amazing. My son is an absolute carnivore who love it. He could not believe it did not have meat in it.

    Since the last time I made it I got a new job and we have a number of Indian vegans and I am going to make this. It think it will blow their minds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.