the taste space

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood’s Chili Fest Chili, adapted)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 26, 2011

One of my friends has a sulphite allergy. In short, she could have an anaphylaxis reaction (ie, really bad difficulties breathing) if she consumes sulphites. Sulphites are a commonly used preservative and found in a whole host of foods (processed food, beer, wine, dried fruit, etc). Canada is very good at making food producers label their products with any sulphites used, so I always check labels when I know my friend will be over.

In reality, though, I don’t make many things from processed foods, so I should be ok, right? Well, as it turns out, I have been cooking with a few sulphite-laden ingredients – vegetable broth (not homemade), coconut milk and even dried fruit were among the many culprits I have found in my recent dishes.

So when we needed an emergency girls night in, and when it was -28C outside (with the wind), I scoured for recipes I could make without venturing to the grocery store AND that had no sulphites AND that would taste best the next day as leftovers (since I wasn’t going to cook after work). A pretty onerous task, if I may say so myself!

I narrowed my choices to two options: The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic OR the Chili Fest Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. The chili was rife with savoury flavours like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano. Oh, and molasses! Considering it was so cold outside, the chili won out instantly.

I modified the original recipe by increasing the onions, red bell peppers and carrots while omitting the celery. I used the sweet paprika and Aleppo chili flakes for the heat (and omitted the chipotles in adobo sauce). I mixed up the bean variety by using both red kidney beans and black beans. But, the best addition, the secret ingredient, was bulgur! (I realize that my title gave it away….)

The result was a hearty chili with the mix of savoury flavours. Not my favourite chili, as something was a bit off and I prefer my chili with a bit more robust tomato flavour. Next time I might add some tomato paste. The bulgur, though, was excellent and a healthy way to get the mouth-feel of ground meat, without any meat at all. Other grains – millet, spelt, etc – could also be used. TVP is also an option. In any case, this is a nice way to warm up during the winter. Pair it with a leafy salad, some crusty bread, or just eat the chili plain. The original recipe called for a yogurt-cilantro topping to help with the heat. Personally, mine wasn’t a spicy chili but that’s because I didn’t put in the chipotle peppers!

I will have to find some more red peppers to make that lentil and squash stew, though… :)


This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted byAstrid from Paulchens FoodBlog.

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood’s Chili Fest Chili, adapted)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups diced onion (1 large onion)
2.5 cups diced red bell peppers
2 cups diced carrots
1.5 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika (I used Hungarian sweet paprika, but smoked would be nice too)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
28-oz can tomatoes
1 tbsp molasses
19-oz can red kidney beans, undrained (or 1.5 cups cooked red kidney beans with their cooking liquid)
19-oz can black beans, undrained (or 1.5 cups cooked black beans with their cooking liquid)
1/2 cup coarse bulgur
salt, to taste

1. In a soup pot over high heat, warm the oil briefly and then saute the onions and bell peppers for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, reduce heat to medium and saute for 5 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender.

2. Stir in the cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, cloves and chili flakes. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring ocassionally so that the spices don’t stick.

3. Meanwhile in blender, puree the tomatoes. add the tomatoes, molasses, beans (with their liquid) and bulgur to the soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Add salt to taste.

4. Serve warm and top with a mixture of yogurt and cilantro if desired.

Serves 6-8.

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16 Responses

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  1. rob said, on January 26, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    I got to sample a wee bit of this chili when it was still fresh. It was yummy! Go go molasses and bulgur!

  2. Priya said, on January 27, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Feel like finishing that bowl rite now,sooo tempting..

  3. Joanne said, on January 27, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    A sulphite allergy…now that is one I’ve never heard of before! Wow that sounds just as rough as Celiac’s is…

    What a delicious chili! I love how many bright flavors it has…I’m on a chili/stew kick so I definitely need to try this…I’m about the vegetarian options lately!

  4. Cara said, on January 27, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    How sweet of you to seek out just the perfect recipe for your friend to be able to enjoy! Ok, I admit, I am totally the same way :) I hate to make something that not everyone can eat; and I love the challenge of cooking without certain allergens, etc. Even if I can eat those things, it doesn’t mean I have to, you know? I love the mission of cooking differently for others and expanding my knowledge of food. And, lastly, I am dying to see that pumpkin stew recipe! Please make it soon :)

  5. [...] Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood's Chili Fest Chili, adapted … [...]

  6. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said, on January 28, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    I am such a big fan of such chili or thick curry, whatever we want to call it. Delicious looking.

  7. [...] at The Taste Space from Toronto, Canad created Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood’s Chili Fest Chili, [...]

  8. astrid said, on January 30, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    so delicious!

    Thank you for joining us this week at Weekend Herb Blogging!
    The round up is up at: http://foodblog.paulchens.org/?p=3422

  9. Acky said, on January 30, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    I was impressed about your friend’s story…I never heard of this kind of allergy… and neither about bulgur…I can’t find the word in Italian..! anyway your chili seems really superbe! Bye!

  10. Kevin (Closet Cooking) said, on February 1, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    This is a nice healthy and tasty sounding chili! I like the use of the molasses in it.

  11. Ashley said, on March 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I’ve tried TVP a few times and didn’t like it, but bulgur in chili sounds like it could be really good! I was surprised to find out coconut milk had sulphites in it too..

  12. [...] first mentioned it on my list of things to make with butternut squash back in November and again in January!). Honestly, I waited too long.  This is a lovely, hearty stew that is both savoury but still [...]

  13. [...] originally spotted it on Isobelle’s site, but the recipe came from Ashlae. While I have made other chilis before, this is definitely my favourite so far. A savoury saucy chili, filled with beans and [...]

  14. [...] it with other allergies and restrictions? I have a friend with a severe allergy to sulphites, another friend who won’t eat nightshades and beans and I recently met someone with some [...]

  15. […] Barley Salad Bulgur Chili Chinese Cabbage and Fermented Black Beans Spanish Green Bean and Lime Bean Stew Japanese Winter […]

  16. […] to cater to others who may have dietary restrictions, for whatever reason. I have a friend with a sulphite allergy, family members with celiac disease and a coconut-hating mom. I was honoured when Ricki approached […]


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