Monday, February 4, 2008

"This is delicious, mom. You should blog about it!"

That's what my 4-year-old declared, endorsing my turkey chili, which I made twice this weekend.

Chili con carne, the traditional dish of beans and meat is a great, popular dish. Hard to get wrong, but absolutely amazing when it comes together well. I'd been planning to make chili for the Superbowl party that my pals Sanjana and George were throwing. So, come Saturday, I experimented on the family, and got all kinds of praise from my own fave four. My daughter declared it was the "most tasty dish in the world."

My major inspiration was my brother-in-law, Balu, and his famous chili. I'd watched him pull it all together a couple of months ago, and enjoyed the dish. It was a revelation, because I have to confess that I'd always assumed the dish was vaguely unhealthy. But there are some great ways to make this a healthy meal (less oil, lean meat, throw in some vegetables). I used Balu's recipe as the base, but added a couple of ingredients and steps inspired by my web research and my unshakeable belief in the health benefits of Indian spices!

For the Super Bowl party, I made two versions. A kid's version with very little chilli powder, and a big boys and girls version. Sanjana's Super Bowl party table was a testament to the great melting pot. Here's what we had:

Appetizers: Malabar fried shrimp and tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa
Main courses: Turkey chilli served with sour cream and cheese, chicken biriyani with raita (plain yogurt with chives), all rounded off with chicken curry
Desserts: Panna cotta and ice cream bon-bons

I can tell you we were almost comatose at the end of that meal...and then the fourth quarter happened!! Go Giants!!!

Pictured here are Sree and George as they launch into the meal.

Turkey Chili with an Indian Twist
Enough to feed a small army (Ok, a very small army of around 15 people)

Ingredients:
two teaspoons olive oil
three pound ground turkey
three onion, chopped
three(28 ounce) can canned diced tomatoes
three (16 ounce) can canned kidney beans
One small can of tomato paste
two large red peppers, cored and cubed
six to eight garlic cloves chopped coarsely (use only a quarter of that quantity for the kids dish)
five tablespoons chili powder (1 teaspoon, for the kids version)
one teaspoon ground cumin
two teaspoon salt
two teaspoon ground black pepper
I couldn't resist my Indian roots, and ended up also adding:
three large green chillies
two teaspoons of turmeric powder
half a bunch of coriander leaves
one teaspoon of allspice


  • I haven't seen this in any of the recipes, but I come from a tradition that doesn't really enjoy non-marinaded meat. So, I start by mixing the meat and two table spoons of chilli powder, a tea spoon of turmeric and a tea-spoon of salt. Let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients
  • Chop the onions, garlic, red peppers, chillies
  • Prep the cans. In the case of the beans, remember to drain them
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in the pot, and cook until evenly brown.
  • Stir in onion and garlic. Cook this mixture till the onions look tended
  • Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and red peppers.
  • Season with the rest of the chili powder, cumin, diced green chillies, coriander, allspice (only if you're up for that kinda thing!) salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. This last step is essential, since it really brings squeezes out all the flavors and melds them with the meat and beans
  • You can serve the chilli straight with white rice which is how we like it at home. However, most traditional recipes suggest serving it up as a course, with sour cream and cheese. Not really necessary, since this is a flavorful dish that can stand on its own merits.

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