Vegetarian (Or Beef) Pepper-less Chili

Oh my goodness, it’s my first recipe post!



Cue the applause, and general sense of euphoria on my little corner of the blogosphere.

Please… don’t let there just be crickets…


Okay, moving on.

So, does anyone else think that it’s really odd that my first recipe post is a chili?

Chili… chilli, Chile, chilly?

Imma spell it chili… because I can.

I think it’s odd.  I mean, I have a major love of oatmeal.  And peanut butter.  And bananas.  And ice cream.

And this recipe contains none of those things.

You thought I was going in another direction didn’t you?  Although an oatmeal chili might just work… as would peanut butter.  I mean we’ve all tasted African Peanut Soup, and that’s kind of an eighth and a pinch of the way there.  Bananas and ice cream I think would be a no go though.

So this guy spurred from my love of peppers.  And chili.  If you remember back to some of my older blog posts, I’ve mentioned several times I’m allergic to peppers.  I found this out in the process of developing an eating disorder, as I underwent an elimination diet to figure out what was causing all my digestive distress.  Cue subsequent I-can’t-eat-anything-because-it’s-too-painful weight loss, and with the weight loss comes the onset of the eating disorder.  Fifteen hops and sixteen jumps later, moving onwards and upwards, I’m in recovery and I’m still allergic to peppers.  One of the things that was pretty staple in my diet before, be it in the the form of fresh bell peppers on a quesadilla, or in chilli powder (chili?), cayenne, paprika, or whatever other dried form you have to impart flavour.  And a key ingredient in one of my great loves… chili.

So the search began.  Is it possible to have a pepper-less chili?  Google!


Hint: They all HAVE peppers.  Shocking.

Side note: I have WAY TOO MANY tabs open…

It’s been years.  Literally.  And eventually you give up trying to FIND a recipe, because other than beans, peppers are pretty much a give in with chili.  You content yourself for a while with trying to convince yourself that beef stew is the same thing (it’s not).  Once that gets boring, you live vicariously through others by watching your boyfriend eat a giant bowl of chili topped with sour cream and cheese, and huffing in big nostril-fulls (pleasant imagery…) of that signature scent as if it’s crack.  Eventually, you go a little crazy, and take a bite when no one is looking, and for those 15 seconds it’s in your mouth you’re in euphoric bliss.

And the next 48 hours are digestive hell, condemned to a couch, muttering, “Why?! For the love of oatmeal, WHY DID I DO THAT TO MYSELF?!”

And you don’t do it again… until you do.

What can I say… it’s difficult to be a foodie with food allergies.  And I live life on the culinary catastrophic edge. What a daredevil.

Crickets again and awkward silence?  Moving on…

I happened across a miracle thing though… and don’t ask me why it works but it does.  There’s this ONE curry powder that I seem to be able to eat.  I KNOW right?!  A magical mix that somehow has a big pop of heated flavour that doesn’t debilitate me for days!  This blend… I guess it doesn’t have peppers?  I don’t know because you know they won’t reveal their secrets.  But the blend I’m speaking of is:

Teja Curry powder

For those of you who can’t find this particular gem, I also found a nightshade-free curry powder recipe online, if you suffer from this allergy as well.  I haven’t tried it myself though, so I can’t speak of it’s awesomeness.   If you do try it, let me know how it goes!

And with this discovery, endless bouts of experimentation have occurred over the last few years, with various types of foods that typically involve that insiduous nightshade vegetable.  Attempts to make it, obviously not identical, but as close as I could get.



This chili is a recent development, and is probably my favourite chili I’ve come up with to date.  It is inspired in terms of some of the ingredients by a recipe posted recently on Dishing Up The Dirt, with my own spins and of course, pepper-less twists.

FINALLY, a pepper-less chili!  I hope anyone else suffering from a lack-of-chili-due-to-pepper-allergy deprivation can find hope and healing, as well as solace and satisfaction from this new development!

Hint: Google… THIS chili is pepper-less!

I hope you enjoy trying it out, and let me know how it goes.  And of course, if you do make it, take a picture and be sure to tag me ( @cookiecrumbsandcarrottops ) on Instagram.  I’d love to see your creations!

Vegetarian (Or Beef) Pepper-less Chili

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Finally a chili recipe for those people who are allergic to peppers that's still chock full of flavour. Perfect served with a freshly baked warm slice of cornbread.

Inspired by: Dishing up the Dirt


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic*
  • 1 block of frozen tofu, thawed and crumbled**
  • 2-4 tbsp curry powder (depending on your level of heat desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 (12 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (12 oz) can beer (I used pale ale)***
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed (for me, this was a scant 2 cups)
  • 1-2 c water/vegetable stock (to thin)- optional
  • Sour cream/greek yogurt, green onions, guacamole, avocado, cilantro, radishes, cheese, or whatever else you want to garnish


  1. Heat your olive oil in a large soup, or stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add in the onion, and sauté until golden and soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add in the crumbled tofu and sauté until browned slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the grated ginger and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about a minute more. Finally, add the curry (start with 2 tbsp if you’re unsure about how much to add), cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper, and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, a further minute.  If the mixture begins to stick too much and burn on the bottom, turn down your heat, and add a couple tablespoons of stock or water.
  3. Next, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and black beans, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the can of beer, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.  The mixture should thicken up considerably, and become deliciously fragrant.  If it begins to get too thick, turn down heat, or you can add in optional stock/water to reach your desired consistency.  I added about 1 cup of additional liquid.
  5. Once it has simmered, add in the fresh corn kernels, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.  Taste, and adjust seasonings.  I ended up adding a bit more salt when I made it with tofu, but I didn’t with beef.  I also started with 2 tbsp of curry, and after tasting at this point, added close to 2 more tbsp, because I like it to have a decent kick.  But you do you!
  6. Spoon into bowls and top with desired toppings (I used greek yogurt, radishes, and cilantro), and serve with a hunk of delicious cornbread because it’s the best.  And you need them carbs for good energy.  Truth.

*A couple cloves of minced fresh garlic would be delicious in this, or at least 3 or 4 cloves of roasted garlic.  I used granulated because we were out of roasted at the moment, and we are also allergic to fresh garlic.  Go figure.

**To those of you who are unfamiliar with frozen tofu, it’s totally the best way to get a ground beef-like texture to your tofu, as it completely changes and gets crumbly once it’s been frozen.  To do it, drain your tofu and press it a bit to remove excess water, and then stick in a freezer friendly container as a block.  Defrost as you would meat, ideally, over time, but you can also nuke it in the microwave if you’re short on time or forgot to take it out.  Then crumble it with your hands, or pulse a few times in a food processor to get a ground beef like consistency.  Just be sure not to do this too much or you’ll end up with a consistency almost like almond flour… Not entirely bad, but really fine and not as ground beef-like.

If you’d prefer to use ground beef in the place of tofu, sauté a pound of it with your onions in step 1 until browned, and proceed as usual.  I’ve done it both ways and it’s delicious.

***Feel free to use stock instead of beer in the recipe if you’re not a fan of cooking with beer, or the flavour it imparts, but know it will change the end result.  I’ve noticed if I use stock, I often have to use less curry as the heat shines through more.  Play around to find your preference!

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