Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lentil Chili: Theme and Variations

Lentils are wonderful little gems! They come in pretty colors and have lots of flavor, and are a good source of protein. I'm still not sure that all this mad cow disease talk is for real or just another scare, but I am sure about not liking all the chemicals that are given to cattle and probably get passed to us through their milk and meat. So I've been looking for good vegetarian entrees.....not easy when hubby and kids love meat! Lentils have been a pretty good way of making sure we get protein, and disguising that it isn't coming from beef.

When I saw Catesa's recipe for lentil chili, I knew I'd be giving it a try. I noticed she varied from the original recipe but still got a good result. That isn't surprising, because lentils and chili are both versatile, but it got me many delicious varieties can this easy recipe spawn?

I'd love to see other people's takes on lentil chili, so I'd like to try an experiment. I invite anyone who drops by here to read the recipes other readers have come up with for their lentil chili, and come up with your own. Post your recipe on your blog, and to keep the lentil chili chain going, please link to this entry so your readers can see the "theme and variation" idea and contribute too. I'll add links to new recipes at the end of this post to make it easy for readers to enjoy them all. (Please leave a comment so I'll know to check your site for your recipe!)

The original recipe called for canned corn, green peppers, and just three spices (among other things). Catesa's variation used two kinds of lentils, added chickpeas, and dropped the green peppers and one of the spices. I don't like green peppers at all, and I don't care for corn in my chili, so both of those were out. I wanted to use two kinds of lentils but could only find my expensive, delicious French lentils. I also modified the preparation some. My recipe ended up too soupy to eat on a tortilla like Catesa did, but it was very good and I will definitely be making it again, along with some variations I already have in mind. As usual, I forgot to take pictures!

KQ's French Lentil Chili
Approximately 8 servings

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 T peanut oil
1 t. ground cumin
1 C. French lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 C. beef broth
dash of Tabasco sauce
1 16 oz. can undrained diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. can undrained chickpeas
1/2 t. allspice
salt and pepper to taste
1 16 oz. can tomato sauce

Heat peanut oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat. (You can use a saucepan for this step if it has a heavy bottom and won't burn the onions.)

Put onion mixture into a saucepan, and add lentils, broth, Tabasco, tomatoes, chickpeas, and allspice. (Use some of the broth to deglaze the skillet, if necessary, to get all the goodness into your chili.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to keep chili at a brisk simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30-45 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and continue to simmer until flavors are blended and lentils are done to your taste (just a few minutes if you like firmer lentils, or up to half an hour more if you like them really soft). Before serving, check seasonings and adjust as needed. Serve as is or over rice; if served over rice, a salad will complete your meal.

Thanks for filling me in on the jaggery - sounds interesting. Where do you get it? I'd love to start cooking more Indian food too. I love lentils, so I'll try to come up with a lentil chili recipe too - sometime soon when I have some darn time! I just got back from two day sat the coast again...*sigh*
im glad you gave it a go, it's such a delicious veg alternative to usual chili. lentils are so healthy :) thanks for the happy birthday wishes kitchen queen!
Michelle, I know what you mean about no time!! The jaggery I have came with us from the midwest. I haven't found a good store for Indian food around us yet, but lots of things can be found online. looks like a good place to find lots of things, and they do sell jaggery.

Catesa, it was wonderful! My kids loved it too, and I love giving them really healthy food. Thank you for dropping in and saying hi!
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