Spicy Lentil Chili

This lentil chili recipe is one I can't take credit for but it really is incredibly good. It is based on another Madhur Jaffrey dish, the second I've made since last week when I found myself re-discovering her excellent World Vegetarian book. It is exceptionally full-flavoured and deliciously spicy. I enjoyed it so much, I really wanted to share, especially as it is also low fat and meatless of course.

At first glance the list of ingredients looks long and slightly daunting but the majority of them are just spices meaning that the chili itself is quite straightforward to make if you have a well stocked spice cupboard. And Jaffrey's excellent balance of spices is the secret to the richness of this lentil chili I think.

Ingredients For The Lentil Chili

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped

½ medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno chili pepper, finely chopped

1½ teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of paprika

½ teaspoon of dried thyme

½ teaspoon of dried sage

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

½ teaspoon of cayenne

1 cup/180g brown lentils, picked over and well rinsed

1 14oz/400g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

4¼ cups/1 litre of water

1 7oz/200g can of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro/fresh coriander

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of cornmeal (maize meal)

How To Make It

This lentil chili is best made in a large casserole pot or Dutch oven. I found my 26cm (5½ quart) Le Creuset Dutch Oven was just right size-wise and, as ever, cooked the chili perfectly.

Start by heating the oil over a medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and chili and cook for about 5 minutes until softened and slightly browned.

Next add the cumin, paprika, thyme, sage, oregano and cayenne and stir for 30 seconds or so. Now add the lentils, kidney beans, water, tomatoes, cilantro (coriander) and salt. Cover the pot and bring up to the boil. When the chili is boiling, turn the heat to low and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Next you need to mix the cornmeal with 3 tablespoons of water to form a thick paste. Add this mixture to the chili, stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Make it up to a day in advance or you can freeze it without a problem.

This recipe will give you four very generous servings we ate it two nights in a row this weekend. On Friday we had it with just rice. On Saturday night, we whizzed up some salsa and guacamole and ate it fajita style with soft tortillas, beers and a movie. Messy but worth it!

Madhur Jaffrey' book is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and The Book Depository.

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