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Recipe: A Vegan Chilli

Taco rice bento – transferring to a bowl is highly recommended

For prosperity*, I am writing down this recipe as I’ve used roughly these steps for the vegetarian taco rice lunches that began popping up after committing* to a 2016 “Vegtember”. The chilli can be made completely vegan and there are a few tricks used to maximize umami and keep a savoury sweetness. Essentially, it can be divided into 2 main components: the “mince” and the “flavourings” – the “mince” ingredients are interchangeable but some of these ingredients work best if they are included (like carrot for sweetness, soy mince for texture, mushroom for umami and depth).

Naturally, this is only a guide as I’m not very pedantic unless it’s pastry (which is why I don’t go there often). If you do want this meatified, reduce the amount of ‘mince’ veggies used and ensure that it is cooked through (which requires more cooking time compared to chopped veg) but even this way you can sneak in a nutrition boost. Additional hacks include adding a bit of beef or veggie stock. Simply removing the smokey elements and the beans and replacing these with more tomato it’s close to my take on a vegetarian Bolognese.

Just as with normal beef chilli, I’ve also been able to transform any excess into bento-sized croquettes – they are much lighter when meatless which may make them dangerously moreish. But straight up, this can be used in tacos or taco rice** or a wrap filling.

* As always, I write these things for personal merit; hopefully it would be useful to someone else. But generally I expect that “someone else” is future me that has forgotten how I did this

** My ‘commitment’ to vegetarianism on Vegtember wasn’t too strict as I allowed, personally, under ‘we-are-not-at-home’ circumstances to break the rules. Being far from home, hungover and in a hotel serving bacon does this to the weak-(bacon-)willed person like me.

*** My taco rice is based on what I’d personally treat tacos with – avocado or guacamole, jalapeños, fresh tomatoes, torn corriander (optional), yogurt or sour cream, cheddar or gouda cheese. Lettuce is optional too if you want to fill some “empty calories” but it doesn’t add to the flavour explosions with the previously listed components.


Meaty without meat: A Vegan Chilli


  • Medium-small carrot, grated ("mince")
  • 150-200g closed cup mushrooms, finely diced ("mince")
  • soy mince, reconstituted in veggie stock ("mince")
  • presoaked or "quick to cook" lentils ("mince")
  • finely diced capsicum - tri-coloured looks good too ("mince")
  • fresh or tinned corn kernels ("mince")
  • Half an onion, finely diced
  • 2T chocolate
  • 3/4 tin of diced tomato
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1T chipotle paste
  • 1-2T tomato paste
  • Smoked and chilli paprika to taste
  • <1T White miso, optional
  • Ground ginger to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce (NOT VEGAN) or HP sauce or balsamic vinegar to taste
  • Oil


  1. First, gently cook the onion in a little oil until it is past translucent and is slightly browning
  2. Add the carrot (if using) and mix. Gently cook until the carrot is limp and is slightly browning
  3. Add the mushrooms (or soy mince / capsicum / lentils) and mix. Add a little more oil to ensure that all the vegetables won't stick. Increase the heat a little and mix to ensure everything cooks evenly. If desired, briefly cook on high heat to get some proper browning on the "mince" (but not too dark as there is more cooking to go)
  4. As the mince has browned (mushrooms shrink), add chocolate and mix thoroughly to coat the veggies. Cook for a bit for it to be absorbed but don't burn it - the chocolate will be very bitter otherwise.
  5. Add the tomato paste and a little water to allow the chocolate and paste to be absorbed better in the veg.
  6. Add the chopped tomato - don't add too much to make it watery! If using, add some miso at this stage and ensure it dissolves completely in the chilli. Allow to cook gently to reduce the sauce. If it dries out, add more diced tomato as needed for a thick texture
  7. Add the red kidney beans, chipotle paste, garlic and spices and mix well. Add a (small!) splash of Worcestershire sauce or HP sauce or balsamic vinegar to add some piquancy at this stage if using. Cook this out for at least 5 minutes and stir as needed to evenly develop the sauce
  8. Season to taste - adjust the hotness and smokiness with the appropriate paprika

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