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Author Notes: India has so perfectly and effortlessly mastered the blend of spices with meat and legumes. I think we can all agree there is no other nation in the world who has a more eclectic palate for spices than the Indians. If anyone could give good ol‘ American style chili a run for it’s money it would be the from the expansive culinary world of India.
If you are all about classics then this is not for you! However if you think you might like a peek at what beholds on the dark side read on my friends. You may never look back. Here is a “chili” twist on a classic indian dish called Dhansak.
Meat, Pulses and Marinade
- 2 lb Lamb Shoulder or Leg cut into pieces by butcher bone in
- 1lb Stewing Lamb cut into tiny chunks
- 1 lb Ground Lamb
- 1 cup Yellow Lentils
- 1/2 Cup Red Lentils
- 1 Can Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
- 1 Can Black Beans
- 1 Cup Dried Sprouted Mung Beans
- 2 tbsp Ghee for frying the onions and veg
- 1 cup Tamarind Pulp
- 1/2 cup Cane Sugar or Brown or whatever you like
- 6 Tbsp Roasted Ground Coriander
- 1 Tsp Cayenne Powder
- 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Cup Canola Oil
- 5 Garlic Cloves minced
Veggie and Spice List
- 2 Eggplants
- 1 Small Pumpkin/Acorn Squash or Butternut
- 4 Handfuls Spinach or Kale Ribboned
- 7-10 Ripe Tomatoes
- 6 Green Chillies seeded and chopped
- 3 Large Onions Chopped finely
- 6 Shallots Minced
- 6 Limes Juice and Rind
- 2 bunches Cilantro
- 2 Thumbs Ginger minced
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 10 Green Cardamoms Pods seeds only
- 8 Black Cardamom Pods seeds only
- 6 Cloves
- 3 Tbsp Ground Roasted Coriander
- 2 Tbsp Ground Roasted Cumin
- 2 Tsp Ground Tumeric
- 3 Tbsp Chili Powder plus extra for rub on veggies
- 1/2 Tsp Cayenne or more if you like
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 3 Tbsp Salt (you can either add this to the spice mix or wait until the end to taste)
- 2 Cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 Cup Water
- DAY 1 Marinade for the Meat Make Marinade - Look to First Ingredient List. Mix together the marinade ingredients ( Tamarind Pulp, Sugar, Coriander, Cayenne, Chili Powder, Salt, Garlic and Canola Oil) and rub all over the meat. Leave in a ziploc bag for at least 3 hours or if possible overnight in the fridge.
- Pulses If you are not using dried Chickpeas and Black Beans do not worry about soaking overnight. However if you are then you need to soak overnight. Rinse thoroughly next morning and boil until soft. Do them separately as the black in the beans will taint the colour of the chickpeas.
- Prepare Veggies Cut the Pumpkin into Wedges ready for roasting. No need to peel skin off. Rub oil, salt, pepper and chili powder all over. Eggplants go in whole. Bake in the oven at 350F until soft. The eggplant should be almost mush and the skin browned. If the eggplants still feel relatively in tact cook a little longer. Once done remove from oven and remove rinds from the veggies. Cut pumpkin into small pieces and don’t worry about the eggplant as it will disintegrate into a fleshy mess. Just make sure to remove all skin from the eggplant. Dice the onions and tomatoes, grate/mince the ginger and finely chop the garlic, shallots and the chilies. If you have a blender then puree the garlic, ginger,chilies and shallots together. It may need a little water for assistance. Measure out your pulses and beans except the sprouted mung beans. Prepare Spice Blend Preparing your spice blend can be done in advance too. If you have the time great but if not don’t panic. It can be done during Day 2. Mix the Spices together It is important that the Cumin and Coriander are roasted first before you blend the rest of the spices together. Cumin and Coriander have to be roasted and ground separately. I usually do this in larger batches as it is a pain to always have to do. Take your biggest frying pan and if you have an outdoor burner it is best to do outside as this tends to smoke and the aromas released from the spices are very pungent. Always do the cumin first as this is the stronger smelling of spices. Fill the bottom of the pan with the cumin seeds and once they start popping and turning colour they are ready to be removed. Place in a bowl and allow to cool first. Then repeat with the coriander. Keep the spices separate. The seeds roast in no time usually no more than 5 minutes from start to finish. Once cooled place the seeds in a spice/coffee/vita mix grinder and grind until you have a fine texture. Place in air tight glass jars and leave in your cupboard for up to six months. Once the cumin and coriander are ready, take the black little seeds from the cardamom pods and mix with the rest of the spices (not cinnamon sticks). Using your spice grinder or coffee grinder blend into a powder.
- Day 2 (after the meat has marinated) Combining the Ingredients First add ghee to the pan, enough to coat the onions. Place onions in the pan and cook until caramelized. Then add garlic/ginger/chili/shallot mixture. Stir for 2 minutes. Now add tomatoes and spice blend. Don’t forget the cinnamon sticks. Mix well. Now add the meat and coat well. Then add the pumpkin and the eggplant. Now add the chickpeas and the black beans. Now add the pulses and 2 cans of 14oz fire roasted tomatoes and a cup or so of water (alternatively you can make or buy a lamb stock and use this as your liquid instead of the cans of tomatoes and water). You want enough liquid for the lentils to cook and soak up plus some extra for simmering. Simmer on low and stir often for 5 hours or so until the meat is falling off of the pieces with bones. Cool and refrigerate. The next day remove all bones from the pot best you can. Reheat and once at a simmer add the sprouted mung beans (optional). They need about 6-8 minutes to cook. Once they “sprout” they are cooked. Just before serving cut up spinach/kale and mix through. Top with coriander once cooled and add lime juice and rind. Probably a little more salt will be needed at this point. If you want it spicier add some cayenne but be careful as a little goes a long way. This is great served with chutneys and Poppadoms. I make my own chutneys but of course you can buy them. I highly recommend mango chutney, Pineapple Chutney or tamarind and date chutney. Also really good on top is yoghurt infused with a little garam masala, lemon juice, grated cucumber and salt. If you are serving wine with this make sure it is one with low tannins. Beaujolais, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir varietals will all be good choices with this dish. Hope you all enjoy this recipe and if you have any questions by all means make some comments and I will answer. Enjoy!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Chili