The flavors of this vegan Mexican chili are rooted in a wonderful paste that starts with toasting whole dried chilis. Be prepared for your taste buds to dance - this recipe is so delicious. Take the time to enjoy this vegan Mexican chili and the depth of the flavors it rewards you with.

Mexican Chili [Vegan]

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Cooking Time



  • 3 Ancho Chilis (dried Poblano Chilies)
  • 2 New Mexico (Guajillo) Chilis (dried)
  • 1 Cascabel Chile (dried)
  • 3.5 cups vegetable broth (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate chopped
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano (or common Greek oregano)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato - 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 14 ounce can crushed tomato
  • 1 14 ounce can black beans
  • 2 14 ounce cans kidney beans
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar


  1. Seed the chiles and tear into approximately 1" pieces. Pre-heat a heavy pot (preferably cast iron) large enough to spread the peppers out. Toast the peppers for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently and taking care not to let the peppers smoke or burn.
  2. Remove the peppers from the pan and place in a small sauce pot with approximately 40% of vegetable stock (1.5 cups as per original recipe). Simmer for approximately 15 minutes to soften peppers and until at least one third of the liquid remains.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the spices (cumin, coriander, star anise and cloves) over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are fragrant, in the same pan that the chilis were toasted in. Remove from the pan and finely grind spices in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. A small coffee grinder works well for grinding spices.
  4. Place the pepper mixture in a blender together with the ground spices, ground coffee, chocolate, tamari and tomato paste and blend to make a uniform paste. Set aside.
  5. Mince seeded jalapeño pepper and garlic in a mortar and pestle together with 1 teaspoon of the coarse sea salt.
  6. Heat the heavy pot used to toast the peppers and spices over medium heat and add oil.
  7. Once the oil is heated (shimmering), add the onion, garlic and jalapeño pepper mixture and oregano and sauté until the onion is translucent. The time to achieve this will vary depending on the depth of the onions in the pot, how heavy the pot is and the specific temperature, but will likely range between 5 and 10 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the pepper paste to the pot, stirring well to combine. Continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring periodically to ensure that the mixture does not stick to the pan and burn.
  9. Add the remaining vegetable stock to the pot together with the lentils and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer and covering, cooking until the lentils and potatoes are near tender (approximately 20 minutes).
  10. Add the tomatoes, beans, vinegar and remaining salt (1/2 teaspooon as per the original recipe) to the pot and simmer over low heat for approximately an hour. Add corn during the last 15 minutes.
  11. Add the lime juice and sugar to taste as the sautéed onions may have developed sufficient sweetness, depending on your taste and preference for a sweeter chili.


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