Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 30, 2016

National Chili Month. Spicy-Sweet Mumbai Chili with Chutney

It’s the final day of National Chili Month, always a month of celebration in the Under Western Skies kitchen. Let’s end this year’s celebration in glorious fashion.

Indian food has always been a favorite here, but until now we’d never thought of making a chili with Indian spices and flavors. It was an idea whose time had arrived.


This chili has leaped to the top of the list as one of the best we’ve ever made, with wonderful and memorable flavors. Like all UWS recipes, this is a vegetarian dish, but I think that even meat lovers may like it “as-is.” It does, of course, contain the one defining ingredient that makes it chili: chiles of the genus capsicum, in this case jalapeño and Tien Tsin chiles.


Spicy-Sweet Mumbai Chili with Chutney


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeño, seeds and pith removed, minced

1/2 tablespoon ground red chiles (we ground 2 Tien Tsin chiles. The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon, but at 60,000 Scoville units, 1/2 was enough)

1 tablespoon curry powder (We used a mix of Penzey’s hot and sweet curry powder)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water (more if you like a soupier chili)

4 cups garbanzo beans (original recipe calls for kidney beans, also an option)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of spicy sweet chutney (we used tamarind chutney and highly recommend it, as well as Sukhi’s brand. Original recipe calls for 1 cup, but didn’t specify a type of chutney. The best amount will vary, depending on your taste and the character of the chutney you choose.)



1 Heat the oil in your heavy bottomed chili pot. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeño, cover, cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the ground chiles, curry powder, cumin and coriander.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt and water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

4. Stir in the chutney and garbanzos and simmer another 10 minutes.

5. Serve over white basmati rice to carry out the Indian theme. We accompanied the dish with a crisp green salad with dried cranberries, avocado and orange slices.

Approximately 6 moderate servings


This chili was like no other we’d ever eaten or made. After the many Indian dishes we’ve cooked and our love for those fabulous spices, it’s hard to believe we’d bypassed  this recipe in our chili bible for years. If you love chili and Indian spices — or need a new twist in your chili repertoire — it’s a great basic to adapt to your taste.

The original recipe didn’t specify what kind of chutney to use, and there are many options available, from the standard mango to apple, peach, tomato, plum and more. The tamarind chutney we chose was the clincher: tart, sweet and a bit sour, it created a perfect overall effect.

We enjoy a hot and spicy chili, so we found the heat level just right, too. The amount of ground Tien Tsin pepper we used, along with the jalapeño, provided a nice bite without being overbearing. If you prefer a milder or hotter chili, adjust your chiles accordingly.

The bowls are American Modern dinnerware by Steubenville Pottery sauce boats, designed by Russel Wright, ca. 1939-1959.

Text and photos © Brad Nixon 2016. Chili-in-progress photo © Marcy Vincent 2016, used by kind permission.

This recipe is our adaptation of the Bombay Chili recipe in The Vegetarian Chili Cookbook by Robin Robertson. © 1998 Robin Robertson, The Harvard Common Press, Boston. Our recipe adjusts the amount of some ingredients, and adds specifics to others.

For more Under Western Skies recipes, including a dozen varieties of chili, click on “Food” in the Categories widget at the top of the right-hand column.




  1. It’s sure getting to be good chili weather!


  2. Works of art, once again, from your kitchen. Amazing!


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