Last week I entered the annual Chili Cook-Off here in Athens. I’ve made vegetarian chili for the past two years and felt like a little change of pace. My taste buds were definitely happy for the change even if it meant I didn’t win. Word to the wise, don’t underestimate the vegetarian voters at a Chili Cook off!
My lack of winning aside, the chili itself was delish. Several people told me that they “hate” lamb usually but they loved my chili. So hooray for turning a few other people onto lamb. And yes, I know I know… Bianca how can you eat the cute little baby sheep!!! Well it tastes good for one and two it’s good for you. Sorry PETA friends but sometimes a girl just needs a little meat in her life.
Besides lamb has some great heart healthy benefits. It is commonly included as the meat consumed in Mediterranean diets, which have repeatedly been shown to help lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Grass-fed lamb is a significant source of omega-3 fats, which is associated with decreased risk of inflammation and heart disease. In addition, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is far better in grass-fed lamb than in the average U.S. diet. Also,Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in valuable amounts in grass-fed lamb. Increased intake of CLA is also associated with reduced inflammation and reduced body fat. It should also be noted that about 40% of the fat in grass-fed lamb comes from oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. This type of fat (for which extra-virgin olive oil is lauded) is also generally associated with decreased risk of heart disease.
Besides being filled with good fats grass-fed lamb is a very good source of selenium and zinc. Healthy intake of these antioxidant minerals is a protective factor against oxidative stress and development of heart disease. Lamb is a good source of hard to get vitamin B12 and also provides important amounts of the B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, and choline. Plus it has a good amount of copper. Cooper helps your body utilize iron, can reduce tissue damage from free radicals, helps maintain bone and connective tissue health, keeps thyroid glands functioning properly, and helps preserve the Myelin sheath that surround and protect our nerves.
So yes, part of me feels slightly bad for liking to eat all the cute animals (lamb, goat, and rabbit). But, the bigger part of me knows that 1) they are good for me 2) I don’t eat them that often and 3) damn it I like the taste so sue me. In fact I am going to take a bowl out of the freezer right now! It will warm me up on this chilly fall evening. I will have it with some brown basmati rice, a little Naan bread and left over Cilantro Chutney. I can’t wait!
Lamb Chili –Indian Style
1-1.5 Cup Split red lentils
2 lbs Ground Lamb
4 Lg White Onions
1 Lg Tomato (chopped)
2 bunch Cilantro
1 bunch Flat leaf Parsley
1 bunch Mint leaves (optional)
2 C Fresh Garlic
2 Tb Tumeric
5-6 tb Cumin Seeds
2 Tb Coriander Powder
2 Tb Cardamom Powder
3 Tb Onion Powder
2 Tbsp Sea Salt
5 Tb Cayenne Pepper
2 Tb Sunflower/grapeseed oil
1-2 Jalapeno (optional)
¼ Cup Red Wine
2 Cup Water
Rogan Josh Powder/Seasoning Mix
1 Tb Paprika
1 Tsp Ginger powder
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Clove
1 Tsp Ground Bay Leaf
1 Tbsp Cumin Seed
1 Tbsp Coriander Powder
1 Tbsp Cardamom Powder
NOTE: Red lentils can either be boiled on the stove or in a crockpot or you can even grind into a powder/flour and browned into a roux.
1) If making on the stovetop take 2 Cups of water to 1 – 1.5 Cup of red lentils. I personally make mine in the crockpot over night when I have the time OR I grind into powder and brown like a roux when I don’t and add water once cooked.
2) Add 1 full onion and ½ Cup garlic (finely diced or pulverized in the food processor) and red wine.
3) 1 Teaspoon each of cumin seeds, coriander powder, onion powder, turmeric, and cardamom.
4) I use my hand blender to puree into a silky gravy that we add to the chili later.
5) Add 1 Tbsp Cilantro Chutney
Note: This stuff is DELISH! I always make extra to use with other meals plus you can add a dollop on top for garnish! LOVE IT!
1) Add fresh Cilantro, Parsley, Mint (optional), Jalapeno, 1 Onion, ½ cup garlic, 1-2 Tbsp Cumin Seeds, 1 Tbsp Coriander Powder, 1 Tbsp Cardamom Powder, 1 Tbsp Sea salt to food processor and puree.
2) Place into an airtight container and set aside
Rogan Josh Seasoning
Note: You can purchase an already made mix. I like East End or Shan brands. Or you can make your own dry mixture. This makes enough for me to make my chili and keep some for later.
Note: 1) This recipe could be made with beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. I buy local organic lamb that is grass fed and hormone free… because it’s what I like. 2) You can make this dish as spicy or not so spicy as you desire. I like mine hot! So this recipe is hot. You can reduce the cayenne and omit the jalapeno if you don’t like spicy food.
1) Brown the lamb in batches using a frying pan with 1 Tbsp of oil. 4 minutes (medium heat) You want to eliminate all the pink but, don’t overcook.
2) Add 2 Tbsp of Rogan Josh Seasoning with the remaining Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Onion Powder, diced tomato and ½ cup of diced garlic and onions. 4 minutes.
3) Pour the lamb mixture into a large stock pot.
4) Add 3 Tbsp of the Coriander Chutney
5) Add all of the lentil base and allow to cook together for 10 minutes. Stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
6) After 10-15 minutes check the flavor. Everyone’s taste buds are different. Do you like more salt? More garlic? This is where you add that in. I usually add 3 Tbsp of the Cilantro Chutney and more fresh garlic and onions and let simmer. Turn to low and leave it alone for another 5-10 minutes
7) I stir in 1 Tbsp of salt after I turn the fire off. I don’t usually salt while I cook. Then I leave it to cool on the stove for at least 15 minutes before I serve.