Tasting Table National: Lamb Chili

To learn more about this recipe, see our related story, Road Log, in our National edition. 

Recipe adapted from American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini (Harper Collins)

Lamb Chili With Chickpeas And Raita
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Lamb Chili with Chickpeas and Raita
Servings
4
to 6 servings
Ingredients
  • For the raita
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup thick yogurt
  • 6 large fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  •  
  • For the chili
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 medium red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger--peeled, sliced thin and diced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala (or 2 teaspoons curry powder plus a pinch of cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes with their juice
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • ½ cup torn fresh cilantro leaves
Directions
  1. Make the raita: Cut the cucumber in quarters. Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds.
  2. Using a box grater or a large flat grater, grate the cucumber into a bowl. Tip the bowl over the sink, holding the cucumber in place with your hand or with a plate, and drain the excess moisture.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice into the cucumber (be careful not to allow any seeds to get into the mixture). Add the yogurt. Mix together. Add the mint, salt, cumin and cayenne. Mix gently. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge. The raita should be served cold.
  4. Make the chili: In a large saucepot set over medium heat, heat the corn oil. Use your hands to break the ground lamb into small pieces, then add the meat to the pot. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes; use a wooden spoon to break up the meat, chopping it and stirring it constantly so that it browns evenly without clumping.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the red onion, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chile powder, salt and pepper. Mix everything together so the meat is well coated in the spices and oil. Increase the heat to high to toast the mixture for a minute or so, until the spices release their flavor and aroma and most of the residual liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, broth and bell pepper. Mix everything together, then turn the heat to medium-high and bring the chili to a simmer. Let it cook, uncovered, at a low bubble, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
  7. When the chili has cooked for an hour and a half, add the chickpeas. Stir and cook for another hour, until the chili has thickened and the flavors are rich and combined.
  8. Ladle the chili into individual bowls; add a spoonful of the cold raita and a sprinkling of cilantro to each. Serve the chili right away, with basmati rice and cold beer.
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