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Rinku Bhattacharya: Chana Masala Chili

chana masala chili recipe
2 min read

by Rinku Bhattacharya

Rinku Bhattacharya is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences and original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku loves food, numbers, kids, books and her camera. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and her cookbook The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, highlights and offers many simple recipes from Eastern India. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you live in New York like me, you might be convinced that you are indeed in the land of endless winter. Honestly, some days I feel like I have been permanently transported into a snow globe. For the last three months we have been completely surrounded by snow, waking up and walking to work amidst a show of snowflakes has become the new normal. Even now, when the sun is beginning to peek out, the snow still has not melted away. It looks rather strange to see squirrels scampering around in the snow.

The weather is chilly still and begs for slow cooked comfort in the kitchen, make that spicy slow cooked comfort! The key while indulging your comforting self is to ensure that you do not over do the indulgence part of things. One of the staples in my kitchen this year has been this chana masala inspired chili, which among all things is slow cooked to boot. It is essentially a classic chana masala laced with ground lamb and a comforting lay of chili style garnishes. This is where you can moderate or modify the indulgence factor as you see fit. If you have the time, sautéing the onions, with the ground lamb and the whole spices help and make for more enhanced flavor, so I leave it up to you.

This recipe is great for a crowd and, if you are cooking ahead, it also freezes well. It adds surprising layers of fun to any table and is easy to cobble together, since it pretty much cooks itself.

Chana Masala Chili

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients for the Chili

  • 3/4 cups dried regular chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup brown chickpeas or red kidney beans
  • 3 cups water
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes
  • I red onion, diced
  • 2 green Serrano chilies
  • 1 large 11/2 inch piece peeled ginger
  • 4 pods garlic
  • 11/2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 large (about 2 inch stick cinnamon)
  • 2 pods cardamom
  • 3/4 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Ingredients for the garnishes

  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • chopped scallions

Method of Preparation

  1. Place the two chickpeas or the chickpeas and beans in a slow cooker with the water and the salt and set to cook for 6 hours.
  2. After 4 hours of cooking, place the tomatoes, onions, chilies, ginger and garlic with the cumin powder in a blender and process until smooth.
  3. Place the tomato mixture, with the cinnamon, cardamom, ground lamb and thyme into the slow cooker and cover and cook for the remaining 2 hours.
  4. Stir in the cilantro and check the seasonings.
  5. Serve with garnishes of your choice.