Cultural Connections

Musings about my experiences, art, and life in Mongolia and beyond.

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Location: Ulaanbaatar, Tuv aimag, Mongolia

Native Chicagoan currently teaching in Mongolia.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kharkhorin Chili

Nights: -10
Days: +10

With temperatures like that, why did I move here you ask?! For the adventure of course, right… Fortunately, I have my lovely fur hat fashioned after an old Mongolian style hat and made by an old friend, Phelgye. He came from the high Tibetan Plateau where they know cold weather, same as the Mongolians.

The other day I came home from school and there was no heat, no hot water, and no cable TV! I needed to do some homework and writing, so I insanely headed back out into the cold to my favorite coffee shop that was nice and toasty warm. I looked at their menu to see if there was something warm to eat. They had many American style foods such as pizza and “sloppy dorj”, a variation of sloppy joe. I noticed they didn’t have chili.

Today I came home and designed my own chili based on ingredients I could find (some a bit exotic) and with a touch of local flavor. These included ground beef and onions from Mongolia, red lentils from India, tomatoes, and superior dark soy sauce from China, garlic, cilantro, brown sugar from Korea, chipotle peppers from Texas and Kharkhorin beer.

Unfortunately for you folks outside of Mongolia, one of the key flavorful ingredients is Kharkhorin beer, which cannot be found anywhere else. You can substitute it with your favorite dark beer, but Kharkhorin has a taste all its own. I hope Chingiss would be proud.

Side Note: Kharkhorin was the ancient capital city in Mongolia during Chingiss Khan’s rule. Historical manuscripts and archaeological evidence tells us that it was a rich and diverse city full of international flavor and visited by artists, scholars, and diplomats from all over the world Some of the visitors included William of Rubrick, Giovanni de Carpini and an envoy from Pope Innocent IV.

Serves 4-6

1 TB vegetable oil
2 lbs ground meat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of red lentils, soaked about an hour or until soft
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
3 chopped tomatoes, slightly roasted in oil / or 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes.
1 tsp. of beef bouillon
2/3 cup of Kharkhorin beer
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tbsp. of chipotles in adobo

Chopped green onions, sprigs of cilantro, grated cheese and sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish.

In a medium sized pot, brown the ground beef, drain excess fat (interestingly, Mongolian ground beef is much leaner than in the U.S.). In a small frying pan, heat the oil and sauté chopped onions and garlic. Add chopped tomatoes. Fold onion, garlic, and tomatoes into the meat.
Stir in the beer, bouillon, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Taste sauce and adjust ingredients to taste. Add red lentils. Lower heat to a slow simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 30 minutes.

Serve with bread and a side of cool cucumber and dill salad.


Blogger Jules said...

This recipe was featured on a segment of Mongolia's weekly "Mass Cook Show" when I guest hosted with my friend Moogie in December of 2007. -Julie

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 2:31:00 PM  

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