Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fall Favorite: Chili and Cornbread

Suganya is celebrating a month of Vegan Ventures on her blog. One of my favorite fall dinners just happens to be vegetarian chili, which happens to be vegan, and I teamed it up with some vegan cornbread to make a satisfying Southwest-US inspired supper.

A few weeks ago, there was a chili cook-out at my workplace. A few folks who enjoyed cooking brought big crock-pots of chili, some others brought cornbread muffins and sweet goodies. All of this food was sold over lunchtime and the modest sum of money collected was handed over to a breast cancer organization. It was a lot of fun, and a nice way to do some small-time fundraising while enjoying a variety of home-cooked food. I make chili quite often during the cold months, but wanted to try something different, so I took this chipotle-"meatball" chili to the cook-off, and everyone enjoyed it. It sold out, and I was surprised and relieved, because this is Missouri, after all. Today I made the exact same chili again and decided to post it here so I won't forget the recipe a few months from now! This chili definitely tastes much better a day after it is made. It is perfect for a make-ahead dish to feed a crowd.

Here are the main components of this hearty chili:
1. Beans: I chose to use a combination of red kidney beans (apna rajma) and Dominican red beans. The latter are a pretty new addition to my pantry. When Indosungod wrote this post and said, "When cooked they tasted a lot like boiled peanuts", I practically ran out and bought a bag of these cute pink-white beans (I found it in the Mexican section of the store- Goya brand). I love the taste of these beans and use them quite often now. Pinto beans and black beans would also work well in this recipe.
2. Soy meatballs- I buy them from the frozen section. The meatballs soak up the delicious stew and simply melt in the mouth.
3. Vegetables: Onions and peppers feel like natural additions to this chili. But I omitted green peppers and only used the ripe sweeter ones- yellow, orange, red- here. I added carrots and yellow squash for more juicy vegetable goodness. If I were not serving this chili with cornbread, I would have added some corn kernels as well. Zucchini and eggplant would also be tasty here.
4. Tomato puree, as a base.
5. Chipotle peppers in adobo: These are smoked Mexican chillies (jalapenos) preserved in a spicy sauce.

These can be found in cans wherever Mexican foods are sold. Once the can is opened, I transfer the contents to a glass bottle and use the flavorful chipotles (and their sauce) over several months.
6. In several chili recipes, I came across "secret ingredients" being mentioned in conspirational whispers. A small amount of cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder really does bring out deep flavors in the chili!

Chipotle Chili


1. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pot/ Dutch oven.
2. Saute 4-5 cloves minced garlic until translucent but not browned.
3. Saute 1 large onion, 1 medium carrot, 2 red/yellow/orange peppers, 1 yellow squash (all cut in large dice).
4. Stir in cooked beans (from 1 C dried beans), 2 C tomato puree, salt, 1 t cumin powder, 2 minced chipotle chillies and 2 t adobo sauce (or to taste), 1/2 t cinnamom (or cocoa powder).
5. Add 2 C water (or to desired consistency), bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1 packet (1 lb) thawed vegan "meatballs" and simmer for 5 more minutes. Eat the next day, when the flavors really come together!

While a lot of people love eating chili on its own, I enjoy it best with some carbs (what else is new?)...either some Spanish rice, or some couscous, a corn tortilla, or some cornbread. I found a recipe for an award-winning vegan cornbread that looked delicious, and it had a delightfully short ingredient list too! There are two ingredients in this recipe that also are relative newcomers to my kitchen.

The first is ground flaxseeds. This was the first time I used flaxseeds as an egg substitute in baking, and I am very impressed. When mixed into hot water, this powder really takes on the viscous nature of beaten eggs! I often get comments and e-mails from bakers seeking to make eggless baked goodies, and I definitely suggest that they should play around with flaxseed powder- it is known to work well in many recipes. The second ingredient is cornmeal. I am happy to have found this whole-grain medium-grind cornmeal (this brand) because most cornmeal has the germ removed and is consequently less nutritious. I skipped the sugar in the cornbread because the almond milk was already sweetened. The sweetish note in the cornbread is delicious. The addition of sweet corn kernels and aromatic green onions makes the cornbread even tastier.


(Adapted from this recipe, makes 16 squares)
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. In a small saucepan, heat 6 T water, then stir in 2 T ground flaxseeds until the paste becomes viscous. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients:
1 C AP flour (or white whole-wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour, or some combination of these)
1 C cornmeal
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
4. To the dry ingredients, add and mix
flaxseed paste
1/4 C oil (I used olive, but canola or another neutral oil is recommended)
1 C almond milk (or rice milk or soymilk)
5. Stir in the extra ingredients
1/2 C corn kernels (frozen, thawed)
3 green onions, minced (green and white parts)
5. Pour the batter into a greased 8x8 inch baking dish, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes clean. Serve warm.

Serve piping hot chili with warm cornbread, garnished with green onions or cilantro, if desired.

Next time, I plan to make a chili casserole, by pouring warm chili into a baking dish, topping with cornbread batter and then baking the whole thing. That would be a delicious way to serve this combination, I imagine.

Stay warm, and a Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the USA, who will enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, good times with family and friends, and a couple of days off!

For a tempting array of vegan recipes, from appetizers to desserts and everything in between, go visit Suganya's round-up.


  1. What a gorgeous meal Nupur. Loved the corn bread especially...oh and the beans! I have to make some space in my pantry now :-)

  2. i love ur serving dishes :)and the cornbread looks lovely! shud try it sometime

  3. I love vegetarian chili - there are so many ways to do it and they all taste so good! I haven't tried soy meatballs yet, but I imagine they're great in this. I can't wait to try that cornbread! I actually have some flax meal in the freezer unopened. I've used flax seeds many times, but I've yet to try flax meal.

  4. Looks might want to try the cornbread recipe at Isa's original recipe rocks..its a winner in our house with any kind of soup!

  5. looks great and your other idea seems lovely... baking everything together :)

  6. Sounds like a really interesting recipe, Nupur!

    I posted a chili recipe recently, though not a vegetarian/vegan one. There seem to be quite a few chili recipes going around the blogosphere these days! Which is great, because I love chili!

    I would love to try your version because it sounds and looks delicious, but I don't think I can find some of the ingredients here, e.g. chipotle peppers in adobo... I will look though.

    Btw, I _love_ your little white dishes! They're gorgeous!

  7. The chili looks delicious -- anything with chipotles in adobo works for me. And vegan cornbread -- I'll have to try it. Thanks for the recipes.

  8. Nupur, Chili looks colorful and delicious, though I am self confessed Bean lover, Chili is one I can't seem to get along with maybe because the ones I have tasted (usually in restaurants) are so bland to begin with. I am intrigued with the chipotle chili.

    Love the Corn Bread, yup the flax seed meal is a wonderful thing.

  9. Nupur, you must have read my mind, I LOVE chili and am always on the look out for new recipes. I have never tried soy meatballs, and have a question: do they taste "meaty"? I am vegetarian only because I dislike the taste and texture of meat, so I normally avoid meat substitutes for this reason. Thanks! Flaxseed is wonderful - I "discovered" it some years back, and it's supposed to be good for you, too, besides tasting yummy.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and all your readers!

  10. nupur ..both of them look fab! i have never tried corn-bread on account of the egg...i should make some now..I am in love with flax meal..they are really a fantastic egg-sub

  11. Everybody here have had appriciated your pictures and your serving dish...I am also fan of your serving dishes...I was eagerly waiting for the page to load...but I CANT SEE UR PICTURES!!!.I think problem in my side...hope problem will get fixed soon:((

  12. Hi Nupur,
    Your recipes are delicious.Just wanted to know is Flaxseed 'alliv' in marathi? They make Alivache ladu in konkan region. Our flax seeds and 'alliv' same thing?Thanks :)

  13. Nupur..what a nice gesture, cooking then donating the money collected...
    The chilli looks so good. I've not made it so far but would love to make and try this vegetarian version... that with cornbread to soak it all up must be divine.

  14. tempting. From a long time I am waiting to taste some kind of chili. I checked in Taco Bell - I was hooked to their ad in TV, but it has beef in it. So I could not taste it.
    I am going to try your version soon. Thanks Nupur.

  15. Superb meal Nupur, Love the cornbread.. and added to my next-to-do list!
    Thanks dear.


  16. This is the warm colors. I like your idea of chilkli casserole too

  17. i've never had those soy meatballs, but as u said they must really soak up the flavors with all that chipotle in adobo :) is it from tj? loved the combination of flavors and textures in that chili, lovely meal!

  18. Sahi! Your chili looks fantastic...have to try it soon! :)
    btw, i have been wanting to tell you for a long time that I tried out your Broccoli soup and vegetable paneer korma and its become a staple in my kitchen.:) Thanks for the recipes.

  19. Rainy, cold weather is the perfect pairing for a bowl of chili :) I had made some earlier, but unfortunately lost the recipe. I made some buttermilk biscuits to go along with it. Love your corn bread recipe and thank you soooo much for the flax seed tip !

  20. WOW!! Lovely!!!
    I never knew that chili was anything but meat and beans (that is the only thing I have seen and heard at my workplace!!)
    Ur version is awesome!!!

  21. Love the idea for the casserole! I usually yse soy granules in chili, will try the soy meatballs now, that seems even yummier idea :). This indeed is a lovely fall supper, Nupur! Yummy :).

  22. Nupur, You are mighty creative and I will be more than happy for this entry. BTW, Have you tried almond milk or rice milk in fruit smoothies? They add depth, flavour and richness.

  23. Ashwini, yup :D I have been enjoying those Dominican red beans
    in many recipes- Indian and Mexican-inspired...

    Nags, the dishes are all sturdy and inexpensive ones :)
    Cornbread is such a delicious and quick bread.

    Cathy, I love veggie chili too! I do love soy meatballs in
    marinara sauce and chili, because they make the dish taste so very
    hearty. This cornbread is totally worth a try, especially since you
    already have the flax meal. What do you use flax seeds for? I should
    look into using them.

    Neha J, thanks for the link!

    Raaga, oh, the casserole is an idea I saw on other sites, and I really want to try it :)

    Maninas, 'tis the season for chili :) yes, it is true, this
    ingredient may not be available in many places. Maybe the next time
    you have a visitor from the Americas, you could request a can of chipotles in adobo! The little white dishes are from a store called
    "Crate and Barrel".

    Lydia, I have started to add chipotles in adobo into
    everything, now that I have it on hand :D The vegan cornbread is
    certainly worth a try.

    Indosungod, I think you will love using chipotles in
    adobo...they are hot hot hot, in a tasty way. I know what you mean
    about most restaurant chilis!

  24. Kamini, to me, the soy meatballs are hearty but not unpleasantly meaty (I do know what you are talking about here :))Still, we all have our own thresholds so feel free to omit the meatballs and add more veggies or beans. Different fauz meatball brands also differ widely in taste...this one is from Trader Joe's. You might possibly find a brand that you particularly like. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too!!

    Rajitha, oh yes, this eggless cornbread is delicious, esp since you already seem to have flax meal on hand!

    Rak's Kitchen, no idea why the pictures are not loading :( I can see them fine here. Hopefully the issue will resolve and you will be able to see them.

    Anon, I have absolutely no idea. I have eaten alivache ladu once or twice but have no experience with alliv beyond that. It is intriguing to think that they might be the same or similar...hope you find the answer somewhere, perhaps looking up both of their botanical names?

    Laavanya,yes, in cold winter, it does taste is real easy to make. Give it a shot!

    Shilpa, Veggie chili is sooo easy to make at home, and will turn out much better than Taco Bell for sure ;) to make it look even more tempting, serve it with a dollop of sour cream, tortilla chips and lots of cilantro!

    Siri,glad you like it :)

    Sandeepa, not my idea :) but an idea that I'm certainly looking forward to trying soon!

    Richa, you guessed it, missy, the "meatballs" are from TJs :D

    Tee, you are such a sweetheart for letting me know! This chili is totally worth a try :)

    Priya, ooh, biscuits eh? Now there's a delicious idea. I am definitely going to bake some biscuits to go with the chili next time!

    Manasi, forget the meat...veggie chili is sooo tasty and comforting (and dead easy to make, as you can see). Give it a try and serve it to your colleagues ;)

    Musical, yup, I use soy granules too, soemtimes, but really prefer the meatballs because of the way they soak up the flavors :)

    Suganya, I can;t wait for the delicious round-up of this event. This was the first time I tried almond milk, actually, and will definitely take your advice and use the rest for smoothies.

  25. Lovely combo Nupur! Loved the beans....Baking together is a great idea..easy to serve!

  26. And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you, V and my dear darling Dale :).


  27. Hi Nupur -- I must tell you I am lapping up this entire post -- worse than Dale ;) I LOVE Bob's products -- there is a whole slew of them available around here now. Also, I have been looking for those dominican red beans ever since ISG mentioned them, and I finally found them *today*. I only got them canned, however -- hope they will work as well because I simply have to make this chili of yours ASAP. I've never tried soy meatballs but you are tempting me!

    Cornbread looks so fluffy and delish, would never guess it was eggless. Thanks for these two delightful recipes! :)

  28. LOve the way u present u'r dishes- corn bread is a very southern and v just LOVE it

  29. Seema, yes, baking together would make it an easy one-dish meal :)

    Musical, Happy Thanksgiving, dear!! Hope you have plans for a nice feast :) if not, come and join ours!

    Linda, LOL yes, I love Bob's products too...have been resisting the urge to grab too many of them at one time! The cornbread is so soft and melt-in-the-mouth; I am delighted to find this recipe. Let me know if you want some dried Dominican red beans, I can send some to you!

    Dee and Chai, glad you like it!

  30. Happy Thanksgiving! & thanks for your wonderful blog.

  31. Oh Nupur,

    you are such a creative one, love the cornbread. Will definitely try soon!

  32. Now I see the pictures Nupur and If its not...I would have missed this beautiful corn bread and this unique chipotle chilli!!

  33. Nupur, superb recipees! Great vegey substitutions and healthy additions! Thanks much!

    Btw, Marathi Aliw (like the laado) is not flaxseed.

    I don't know the English name for Aliw, but Flaxseed is called zawas or jawas in Marathi.

    Best Wishes!


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