Low-FODMAP Chilli

Chilli is one of my favourites. I have memories of Mum making “chilli pizza” every Saturday (I think she still does this most weeks; Dad can’t get enough!). Of course, this version was laden with onions and garlic, and all served atop a non-FODMAP friendly, albeit delicious and homemade, pizza base. I wrestled with the recipe, taking out the onions and garlic, adding various different flavours and spices and I think the result is pretty brilliant. It’s the husband’s favourite, as well, so we always have a stash of this in the freezer!

The ingredients list looks pretty ridiculous. I basically upended my spice racks to create this one - I’ve gone with the Mexican “mole” concept to develop this recipe, which totally legitimises my very long list of spices, as well as the use of cocoa powder (don’t leave this bit out, trust me!). It’s not as complicated as it looks, though!

You start off by chopping some fresh spices and cooking them off, before adding the bulk of the mole spices all at once. It can take a while to assemble and measure out all of the spices, but once that’s done you’ll have it together in a tick. To make it more manageable, I’ve split the ingredients into a few sections - I recommend having separate bowls for each “mix” and putting everything for each “mix” together so that you just need to upend these into the pan when it comes to it.

And the results are well worth it - this is a truly delicious chilli, with plenty of kick and warm richness. Serve with rice, a tortilla wrap, topped with cooling natural yoghurt, or just a big bowl on its own!

FODMAP rating: Pretty good; leave out the kidney beans and sweet potato if you’re in the elimination phase.
Difficulty: Easy, just a bit of chopping and lots of cooking off spices.
Time: About an hour, plus a couple of hours in the oven.
Serves: 6-8 portions.


Fresh mix:

  • 1 fresh red chilli (remove ribs and seeds for a milder heat)
  • 2 cm fresh root ginger
  • 2 cm fresh lemongrass
  • 2 spring onions (no white bits!)
  • Garlic oil

Spice mix

1 tsp each of:

  • Fennel seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Chilli flakes
  • Chilli powder (beware of supermarket chilli powder as they can contain garlic powder; always read the ingredients list)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Nigella seeds
  • Mustard seeds

Umami mix:

½ tsp each of:

  • Cep powder/porcini paste/umami paste/fish sauce (nam pla)
  • Curry powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Herbes de Provence (make sure to get a blend including Lavender, if you can)

Richness mix:

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/essence, or slice open a pod and throw the entire thing in.

Extra depth mix:

  • Several drops Tabasco
  • Good glug red wine
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 stock cube, or ½ pt homemade stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp yellow “American” mustard (Heinz does a version without garlic and onions)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Body mix:

  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 500g mince - I use vegetarian (Quorn) mince which makes for the most amazing texture

Optional extra veg:

  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 carrots
  • half a butternut squash
  • …anything else you fancy, really!

Have a kettle of hot water on hand throughout the process for periodic loosening of the sauce so that it doesn’t burn; if it suddenly reduces and thickens too much, add some water and turn the heat down slightly.


  • Chop the sweet potato and cherry tomatoes (and any other veg you want to use) and set aside for use later.
  • Preheat the oven to gas 3-4, about 160 degrees C.

Make the mole:

  • Finely chop the “Fresh mix” (chilli, ginger, lemongrass and spring onion greens), heat garlic oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat, cook off the mix for a minute to soften slightly.
  • Add the “Spice mix” - cook off for a further minute or so, until the mustard seeds start popping and it smells aromatic. Add a little water if it starts to get dry.
  • Add the “Umami mix” - mix and cook for another minute.
  • Add the “Richness mix” and a few tablespoons of water, stir well - you should get a fairly thick, richly brown paste (the mole!) which smells amazing.
  • Add the “Extra depth mix” and a little more water if necessary.

Combine with the veg:

  • Finally add the “Body mix” and stir well to coat everything in the sauce. Cook for a few minutes and add more water so that the sauce covers everything and looks a little watery.
  • Cook on the stove on a medium-low heat until the sauce starts to bubble slightly, then put the lid on and pop in the oven.
  • Check the water level every half hour or so and give it a bit of a mix. Cook for a couple of hours - this will make sure that all of the seeds are totally soft so that you don’t get an oddly crunchy sauce.

Just as good/possibly better the next day after the flavours have melded. Keeps in the fridge for several days (if you can resist it); freezes brilliantly and is amazing to come home to after you’ve been away and really can’t face cooking but want something quite substantial.