Legumes / Lentils & Rasams/ Recipes

Indian Spiced Vegetarian / Vegan Mexican Red Kidney Bean Chili

Next in our Winter Food Series is – Indian flavoured red kidney bean chili – vegan / vegetarian. Ever since I had discovered this hearty bowl of chili, it has become my comfort food for cold and chilly winter nights.

When the feel of Winter is in air, skies becomes brighter, misty mornings eventually lead to cold evenings and what better would be than this ? bowl of vegetarian red kidney beans chili to warm up the soul.
This happens when your beloved “rajma- chawal” goes Mexicana , but remains Indian at heart.
So apart from jalapenos, which has been adopted by us as our long lost kid, and chocolate this red kidney beans chili, remain classic at heart, draw flavours from all the warm Indian spices.

This chili is so easy to make, thick and flavourful that you wont miss the meat here. Over the years it has become our to-go chili bowl for all occasion and had been a super hit with vegetarian as well as serious meat-eaters alike. The best part about this chili bowl is that it is extremely easy to make, packed with nutritious vegetables, aromatic Indian spices and off course one secret ingredient – cocoa powder.

Try that and you will know why adding cocoa powder brings such an unique and distinct touch to the chili and each time it makes the chili quite addictive.

red kidney bean chili vegetarian

I had been making typical classic Tex-Mex style meat and bean chili for years now and had experimented quite a bit, noted down the recipes from the famous chili cook-off events too. And had come to the conclusion that Mexican black beans are really indispensable in a chili recipe. But Mexican black beans are not readily available everywhere, so my challenge is to find another bean that would taste good and hearty in chili, and I have zeroed upon these red kidney beans.

Being an Indian , red kidney beans or more precisely a bowl of rajma-chawal , our own comfort food, is almost staple in our dining menu. While making chili with red kidney beans, I have to remind myself every time that this should taste different in all aspect. It is so easy to deviate along the lines of a typical rajma curry. A careful and thoughtful selection of spices, ingredients would ensure that final outcomes would be inclined more towards the chili than a rajma curry.

Did you know that this red kidney bean chili is pure vegetarian and vegan, except that yogurt dressing which is not vegan.

Vegans can easily opt in for vegan yogurt or sour cream or better still enjoy this without any frills.

If you enjoy a warm and hearty bowl of mixed beans – here is our Hearty 16 Bean Soup .

Indian Spiced Mexican Red Kidney Bean Chili

Indian Spiced Mexican Red Kidney Bean Chili for winter nights
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Sukanya Ghosh


  • Red Kidney Beans dried : 2 cups
  • Red onion large : 1 chopped
  • Red bell peppers chopped : 1
  • Green bell peppers chopped : 1
  • Yellow bell peppers chopped : 1
  • Tomatoes. crushed or pureed : 2 cups
  • Sugar : 1 tbsp
  • Cumin powder :1tsp
  • Green chillies Indian, / or Jalapenos ,finely chopped : 1 or 2, depending upon your heat tolerance
  • Cinnamon sticks :1
  • Red chilli powder / Cayenne powder : 1 tsp or less
  • Cocoa Powder : 2 tbsp
  • Garlic finely chopped or minced : 2 tbsp
  • Olive oil / Canola / Vegetable Oil : 2 tbsp
  • Clove powder : a large pinch
  • Black pepper powder ; a generous showering
  • Salt to taste


  • I use dry red kidney beans, that needs 12 hours soaking time. If you are using that, then plan accordingly.
  • You can use slow cooker or pressure cooker to cook this chili. I have used pressure cooker to cook the beans here.
  • Pressure cook the kidney beans till they are soft and tender, but not mushy.
  • In a wide pan, heat the oil and fry the garlic, followed by onions. Do not brown them.
  • To this throw in diced peppers and sprinkle little salt over it. Cook on medium high till the bell peppers are soft.
  • Next, add all the spices, chiliies / jalapenos and tomatoes.
  • Give everything a nice stir, cook for few minutes, lower the heat, cover and let it cook till everything comes together.
  • Once done, check for the seasonings.
  • Add cocoa powder, sugar. Stir it well.
  • Transfer the content of the pan to the pressure cooker and cook up to one whistle.
  • You can omit this step if you want to. I do this because it mixes up everything so well effortlessly and also keep the liquid content just perfect.
  • Plus, using pressure cooker saves fuel and time too.
  • Let the chili stand for 15 minute before serving.
  • You can enjoy it as it is or as a side with Indian flat breads or tortillas or with corn bread.

Dressing up your chili – This bowl of warm red kidney bean chili has been dressed up with dollop of homemade creamy yogurt in the middle, garnished with homegrown cilantro, few cucumbers to balance out the heat, grilled cheese or Indian paneer and served with missi paratha, think about chickpea flour tortillas. That was the closest translation I can offer.

Buen Provecho .

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Anupama Chopra
    February 4, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe. I love Indian Food.

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