Here, lentils provide extra body and protein, pine nuts a bit of crunch, raisins a touch of sweetness and coconut milk a hint of richness. Kashmiri chili powder, often used in tandoori preparations and available at Indian markets, is made from dried chili peppers grown in India’s Kashmir region. The fiery, vibrant red powder has a fruity quality that sets it apart; it makes a nice addition to any spice cabinet.
Make Ahead: The flavor deepens and improves when the chili is made a day or two ahead of time. The chili can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- 1 cup yellow split peas or lentils, picked over to remove any foreign bits
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri mirch powder, or to taste (may substitute red chili powder); see headnote
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Two-inch piece peeled ginger root, grated
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 13 1/2 ounces (1 can) regular or low-fat coconut milk
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 6 ounces (1 can) tomato paste
- 4 scallions, white and light-green parts, chopped
- 1/4 cup packed mint leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 cup plain regular or low-fat yogurt, for garnish (optional)
Cook the lentils in 2 quarts of boiling salted water (with 1 teaspoon salt) until softened but still slightly al dente; that should take about 40 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cool water.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the ground lamb and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until no traces of pink appear and the fat is rendered. Transfer the meat to a colander to drain; wipe out the pot and return it to the stove.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of the oil in the same pot over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Stir in the curry and Kashmiri powders, the tablespoon of salt, the 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and the ginger, letting the ingredients "bloom" for several seconds.
Return the cooked lamb to the pot, along with the cooked lentils, pine nuts, raisins, coconut milk, broth and tomato paste, stirring until the tomato paste is completely incorporated. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
To serve, combine the scallions, mint and cilantro in a small bowl. Ladle the chili into individual soup plates. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt, if desired, and a generous sprinkling of the herb mixture.
From Sourced columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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