Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beef and Puy lentil chili

I'm stoked that I discovered Puy lentils recently. I'd always seen them sitting there on the shelf at the supermarket labelled at three times the price of the brown and red lentils and ignored them. I mean, a lentil's a lentil, right? NO, past self, you were SO WRONG.

I started watching this program called The Little Paris Kitchen which I absolutely fell in love with, not only because Rachel Khoo is ridiculously cute and talented, but because she makes simple, good food look so effortless... and I'm telling you, her food is GOOD. It is the stuff of French cuisine, prepared in a tiny Paris apartment with very few tools. She makes it look like anyone could do it. Anyone could go down to the market, chat to the local fishmonger in fluent French, totally charm them with their cute foreign accent, and pick up some gorgeous fresh fish and cook it in brown butter and lemon. I could totally do that.

She also introduced me to some ingredients I'd never thought of using before, such as the Puy lentil, which is considered by many to be the 'best' lentil, since it holds its shape during cooking and has a unique flavour - I think it's peppery and almost meaty.

Look at them.  They're like delicate little green-grey pearls.

I've been dying to use these in some kind of vegetarian stew in place of mince. However, as well as myself, I also have to feed an omnivore. Last week our conversation about dinner went something like this:

Me:   Hey, I was thinking of making a chili this week.
Him:   Sounds awesome!
Me:  Did you want beef chili? Because I was thinking of using lentils instead of -
Him:   Beef.
Me:   But I -
Him:   Beef.

Okay, neanderthal man. So I made a compromise, and so beef and Puy lentil chili was born.

Ugh, it's just a giant pot of spicy, saucy bliss. I can't even.

Beef and Puy lentil chili (gluten-free)

Notes: Makes around 6 servings of chili.

I served this with some roasted summer squash and steamed green vegetables (broccoli and zucchini), but you could skip that and just serve with rice or quinoa. I find the lentils already quite filling, though.


1 cup (225g) Puy lentils (also known as black or du Puy), washed + 3 cups water
2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced,
1 large red capsicum, or 5-6 mini ones, seeds removed, sliced into rough 2 cm pieces
500g extra lean beef mince
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp raw sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp hot chili powder
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes
4 cups water
1 cinnamon quill
a handful of fresh coriander


Add the lentils into a saucepan with 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Cook for 20 minutes or so. They will be cooked when you bite into one and it's still firm but yields to the bite!

Add the oil, onion, carrots and capsicum into a large stovetop casserole dish over medium heat with two generous pinches of salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly softened. Add the beef, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and spices - oregano, ginger, hot chili powder, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and cumin seeds. Stir everything together with a cooking spoon. Cook for 5 minutes or until beef is almost cooked. Add another two generous pinches of salt (or salt it to your taste).

Add the tinned tomatoes, 2 cups of water, and cinnamon quill and give it another good stir. At this stage, you can leave it for 30 minutes or so, coming back to stir it occasionally.

Add the cooked lentils and 2 more cups of water. Stir through, turn heat down to medium-low, and leave to cook for 1.5 hours, coming back to stir it occasionally.

Just before serving, stir through some fresh coriander, and leave a little bit to garnish.


  1. Empty bowl pic gave me a twang of "damn I wanted some"

  2. Empty bowl pic gave me a twang of "damn I wanted some"

  3. I'm loving all the spices in this chili! Looks comforting :D


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