10-Spice Chocolate Chicken Chili

This 10-Spice Chocolate Chicken Chili is a flavourful, filling meal that is guaranteed to warm you up on a chilly, rainy (if you live in Vancouver!) evening.

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We were off on vacation last week, and spent our days cooking, eating, cycling and climbing. The two warm, sunny days we had, which were great for cycling, quickly morphed into cold days with heavy rain, so we made the best of it and did a lot of indoor climbing! On those days, we gravitated towards warm comfort foods, and this was one of those meals.

For some time, I have been eyeing a 10-Spice Chocolate Chili recipe from the My New Roots cookbook, and I finally got around to making it. I modified the recipe to accommodate our pantry stock, and upped the protein by-way of a roasted chicken, which we picked up the day before.

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The chili was really easy to make, requiring only a bit of chopping. I would say it took just under an hour to get dinner on the table, and most of that time was just letting the chili simmer away, leaving it to generate a great flavour.

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If you are concerned about using cocoa powder in a savory stew, don’t be! Just make sure to use a good-quality, unsweetened cocoa powder. Although I’ve never had it, I think the 10-spice chocolate combo would be along the same lines of a Mexican molé sauce – spicy, with a great depth of flavour 🙂

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If you lead a very active lifestyle, this 10-Spice Chocolate Chicken Chili is a great meal for a few different reasons:

The sweet potatoes:

  • These little power-houses are a rich source of vitamins and minerals (A, C, D, iron, potassium, to name a few). They are also high in fibre, making them a slow-burning carbohydrate – perfect for keeping your energy levels up during the day!

The chicken and beans:

  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, the chicken can be left out and replaced with tofu or another variety of bean or lentil.
  • You will get a major boost of protein in one bowl, which will keep you full for the afternoon.

The flavour factor:

  • The chili tastes great the day you make it, and even better the second day. It freezes  well too, so make a big batch and portion the leftovers for those rushed days when you need dinner on the table quickly.

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We served this with a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime, along with a few unsalted tortilla chips; it worked surprisingly well!

Whether you are still in the depths of winter or not, this is a great one-pot meal to have in your recipe book, and can be customized endlessly, based on your taste preferences – gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or meat-filled – anything goes 🙂

10-Spice Chocolate Chicken Chili
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 8 - 10 bowls
  • Serving size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 175
  • Fat: 3.2 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29 g
  • Sugar: 9.1 g
  • Sodium: 175 mg
  • Fiber: 9.4 g
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Cholesterol: 18.8 mg
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Based on the vegetarian chili recipe in My New Roots cookbook.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium bell peppers (any colour), diced
  • 3 small sweet potatoes or yams, cubed
  • 2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chipotle powder (less, if you don't want it too spicy)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (less, if you don't want it too spicy)
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 - 5 dried bay leaves
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 large on-the-vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (398 mL) can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 2 - 3 cups water
  • 1 (398 mL / 14 fl oz) can black beans, rinsed well and drained
  • 200 g cooked chicken, cut into cubes (we used a good-quality roast chicken from the grocery store)
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 limes, zest + juice
  • ¼ cup (handful) fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat a dash of oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onion and garlic to the pan and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the ground cumin and ground coriander and stir to completely coat the onion. Saute for a few more minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add the remaining spices (cinnamon, chipotle powder, black pepper, ground cloves, cayenne pepper, salt, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and cocoa powder) and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add the fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes with their juice, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, black beans, maple syrup and 2 cups of water. Stir to combine. You want enough liquid in the pot to just cover the vegetables. If necessary, add more water.
  5. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. About 5 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the cooked chicken, lime juice and zest, and chopped coriander. Taste and season to your liking, adding more salt, if necessary.
  7. Serve hot, garnished with additional cilantro and a few unsalted tortilla chips.
This recipe tastes better the longer it sits, so feel free to make it the day before serving. It also freezes well.


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