"One night last summer, I made a chile-spiked chili for my family: my parents, my sons, my partner, and her parents." Read Suketu Mehta's essay, "Fire in the Belly Recipe: Vegetarian Chili. Todd Coleman

Author Suketu Mehta gave us the recipe for this chili. We recommend making a lengthwise slit down the side of each of the fresh chiles to release some of their intense floral heat (see Taming the Heat in Chiles for more about this technique).

Yield: serves 6-8


  • 12 oz. dried dark kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 12 oz. dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 14 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dried chipotle chiles
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large white onions, chopped
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 12 cups canned hominy, drained
  • 12 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-6 naga jolokia or habanero chiles, 
slit lengthwise down one side
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sour cream, to garnish
  • Minced cilantro, to garnish
  • Minced red onion, to garnish


  1. Put kidney beans and pinto beans into a large pot and cover with 3″ water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt; set pot aside.
  2. Heat oil in a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chipotle chiles, bay leaves, onions, and ancho chile and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, 12-15 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in reserved beans and their cooking liquid, along with hominy, tomato paste, vinegar, thyme, oregano, cumin, sun-dried tomatoes, and habaneros and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chili thickens and flavors meld, about 1 hour. Serve chili topped with sour cream, cilantro, and red onions.