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Journal entry

The Chilli Standoff


Chilli. Mexican. Or maybe Tex-Mex. Not really Bombay, or indeed Indian, at all. So when we were first asked to take part in the UK “Chilli Standoff“, which took place last Saturday 17th November, we had to put our (slightly dirty and dog-eared) thinking topis on. But we quickly decided it looked such damn good fun that we simply had to be the Pete Sellers at this particular party.

And so, Chef Naved set to work in the kitchen. A bit of keema here, a few rajma there… liberal amounts of spices, onions, fresh lime, garlic, ginger… and as it turns out, it wasn’t such a leap of faith after all. Served with a sprinkle of crispy fried onions, a twist of lime, fried green mirchi and some toasted, buttered pau bun, it wouldn’t have felt out of place on our menu at all.

In the end – we came third. A podium finish! Not quite the first place we were hoping for, but against such food legends as Lucky Chip (1st) – with their slow-cooked chilli with bone marrow and vanilla butter – and Will Yates‘ (2nd) complex rare-breed chilli (stalwart Will was undaunted by a potentially broken hand), third place was a proud achievement. (We were just a touch sad that Salim did not get to do his victory dance.) And even before the results were announced, it was already a first-class day out, in the company of some of the best names in the food business (Gizzi Erskine, Angela Harnett, Tom Parker-Bowles…). All proceedings were helped along by plenty of ale (from Texas – or Hackney), a chota-peg of tequila, chocolate-chilli gelato, and a meringue “kiss”.

(A great – and somewhat more objective! – write-up of the event can be found here.)

And really – what could we have called it, but Slumdog Chillionaire? For anyone that’s still hankering after it – you can recreate it at home. And we may even serve it up as a special one day soon.


Ingredients Quantity
Oil 20ml
Bay leaves 1
Chopped onions 200g
Chopped tomato 400g
Garlic puree/minced garlic 30g
Ginger puree/grated ginger 20g
Salt ½ tsp
Coriander powder 1 ½ tsp
Cumin powder ½ tsp
Deggi mirch (red chilli powder) 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder 9gm
Rajma (dried kidney beans) 200g
Cooked Lamb Boti Kabab*, chopped 300g
Fresh coriander, chopped Handful
Lime 1, in wedges
Crispy fried onions 4 tbsp
  1. Soak the rajma overnight in cold water. Drain the water and replace with fresh water, then bring to a boil.
  2. Heat the oil and add the bayleaf, and then add the ginger and garlic paste. Saute to a nice golden brown.
  3. Add the onions and cook until browned.
  4. Add all the spice powders, including salt.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add the boiled rajma and cook until the mixture thickens.
  7. Then add the lamb boti chunks in the rajma.
  8. Serve garnished with chopped coriander, a squeeze of lime and crispy fried onions, and some buttery fried bread.


We used this as the meat in our Slumdog Chillionaire – but it’s very good indeed on its own, straight from the grill.

Ingredients Qty
Lamb leg, boneless steak, cubed 500g
Ginger paste 25g
Garlic paste 15g
Deggi mirch (red chilli powder) 1/2 tsp
Ginger juice 5ml
Salt pinch
Lime juice 15ml
Oil 25ml
Greek yogurt 250ml
Garam masala powder 15g
Red chilli powder 5g
Coriander stalks, finely chopped 25g


  • Pat the lamb dry with a paper towel and prick the chunks with a fork. Squeeze out any moisture from the meat.
  • Mix all the other ingredients for the marinade. Add the chunks of lamb and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  • Skewer the chunks an inch apart and grill on a high heat for 3 minutes and turn. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Baste with melted butter and then grill for another 3 minutes before serving hot.

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