This chili recipe is based on a chili that lives in my memory. A chili from a gourmet deli where I worked way back a long, long time ago.
All the food there was excellent: fresh deli sandwiches served on homemade oatmeal bread, richly flavored soups, an array of cold salads, and tourtiere-style meat pies made by the dozens in the days leading up to Christmas for folks to purchase and bake up at home. The owner had traveled extensively in Mexico and had all kinds of carved wooden figures from the Oaxaca region for sale in the shop, peeking down from shelves over the patrons.
And made fresh every morning was a thick, spicy, vegetarian chili made with bulgur wheat. Though I ate that chili for lunch every day that I worked there, I never thought to ask the owner for the recipe.
I think that this version does it justice though. The tomato base is flavored with toasted spices and garlic. It is loaded with not just bulgar but also corn, peppers and beans to give the chili some bite and heft. The bulgur cooks up right in the liquid.
It is tasty and satisfying, and meat-free!
Spicy Vegetarian Chili
A thick and spice chili made with lots of veggies and bulgur wheat.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 12 ounces dark beer
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, diced
- 1 15.5 ounce can red kidney beans
- 1 cup bulgur wheat
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Shredded Mexican cheese blend for serving
- Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add in the minced garlic, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. Stir to saute the garlic and spices for about 2 or 3 minutes. Do not allow the garlic to burn.
Add in the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and beer. Stir everything together and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, corn, green pepper, red pepper, jalapeno, kidney beans and bulgur. Stir to thoroughly combine everything and then cover. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the bulgur is cooked through and tender. Remove the lid and stir in the salt. Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes until the chili has thickened.
Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Top each with the shredded cheese and chopped cilantro. Serve it hot.