Posted by: Brad Nixon | February 19, 2016

Gonzo Garbanzo Chili

It’s a cold winter day (even here in southern California, relatively speaking). Let’s make chili.

I’ve just decided to do this and I’m hungry, so I’m going to the pantry and make chili from whatever’s on hand. Excuse me, I’ll be right back.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Olive oil, 1 diced medium onion, 1 yellow pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves (more if you prefer), 1 minced jalapeño chile, 1 14-oz. can of diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, dash of Chinese 5-spice seasoning, salt, ground black pepper, 1 14-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 2 tablespoons minced parsley or cilantro for garnish, water.

I admit, I did wander out into the yard and pick the jalapeño fresh. This colder-than-average winter has been tough on the peppers, but I do have the one. As always, I advise removing the inner pulp, which is where the real heat of the chile resides. Use caution and wash your hands after handling the chile and do not touch your face with your fingers until you do. Gloves are a good idea, if you have some disposable ones handy.

The “Chinese 5 spice seasoning” is a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and pepper. That’s the flavor that I’m hoping will make this chili “gonzo.”

As always in the Under Western Skies Kitchen of Truth and Beauty, this is a vegetarian dish. You’re on your own if you want animal parts.

Heat up your big chili pot, heat the oil, then sautee the onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeño (or any other chile or chiles you prefer) until the onions are transluscent.

Add the tomatoes, chili powder, 5-spice seasoning, salt and pepper and stir ’em up. Add some water to get the sauce soupier if you prefer. Get the combination to a boil, then turn it down to a hard simmer for 15 minutes or so. Taste once you’re 10 minutes in and gauge if you want more of any of the seasonings. Be CAREFUL. You can’t take it back out once it’s in there.

If you find you have made it too hot with extra chili powder, the best fix is brown sugar or apple juice, but we try to avoid the sugars.

Add the garbanzos and give the pot another 10 to 15 minutes, minimum, to cook together. As much as 30 minutes if you’re not too hungry.

Keep an eye on whether or not you want to add water to match the consistency you’re after.

While the simmering is in progress, it’s a good opportunity to fix some salad, and maybe some rice, quinoa or pasta to serve it on. We tend to favor brown rice, although quinoa has been showing up fairly regularly, too.

Serve in bowls over rice or whatever, and garnish with the green.

Here’s what we have, and it’s delicious. That dash of those exotic spices is an excellent twist on a winter standard.



Special thanks to The Counselor for the 5-spice idea.

If you’re a chili fan, find more chili recipes in “Food” under “Categories” in the right column.

© Brad Nixon 2016


  1. Can’t wait to try Brad… hope all is well in your world.

    All the best, Sharon Sharon Dorros | Account Executive | ADM Productions, Inc. | Phone 516.484.6900| Mobile 516.318.1455| Fax 516.621.2531| 40 Seaview Blvd. , Port Washington , NY 11050| | |


  2. So colorful! A painting should be done from your culinary creation. That, too, would be The Counselor’s department. Ciao!


  3. Ok – the veggie chili entry following “a Snapshot of Bologna”? Perhaps the fine work work of the layout fairy?

    Liked by 1 person

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