Recipe: Bison Chili Masala

When I need a change of pace, I look to other parts of the globe to stir things up. I’m not sure this recipe ever would have occurred to me naturally—I mean, coconut milk and ground beef? But it was just the break I needed from another steak or chicken thigh (I know, I know! Luxurious problems we Primal eaters have!). I remembered a similar recipe from an old cookbook and tweaked it to be a little more India inspired. Warm, savory spices and deeply satisfying. Our bellies hummed for hours.

Bison Chili Masala

2 lbs. ground bison (buffalo) or beef

1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil or cooking fat of choice

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. minced or grated ginger

2 Tbsp. garam masala

1 28 oz. can/jar/box diced tomatoes

1 14 oz. can coconut milk

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Optional Garnishes: cashews, raisins, cilantro

1) In 4 qt. saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add ground meat and stir, breaking up large pieces with a spoon. When meat is beginning to cook, add onion, garlic, ginger, and garam masala. Stir to combine.

2) When meat is mostly cooked and onions are translucent, stir in tomatoes and coconut milk. Adjust temperature so that the liquids aren’t splattering everywhere, but you want to keep the temperature as high as you can manage. We’re leaving the lid off while we simmer so the chili can thicken up.

3) After chili thickens up, about 15 minutes, stir in cilantro, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning with S & P. Serve with garnishes.

Makes 6 servings.

NOTES: I served this with a simple romaine, avocado, and tomato salad dressed with the other half of that lemon and some olive oil. The salad made for a nice refreshing side.

If you have any green or red bell peppers handy, dice one up and toss it in.

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12 Responses to “Recipe: Bison Chili Masala”

  1. I made this over the weekend- it was delicious!!

  2. I made this last night- it was a hit! Very good and definitely different but it took so long to thicken up, I added a bit of coconut flour. It’s a keeper recipe.

    • So glad you liked it! The thickening issue could be the coconut milk. Back when this was posted, I was using Thai Kitchen, which really does have the best texture, but I’ve switched to Native Forest to avoid BPA in the cans. And I can see where a thinner coconut milk could result in a less thick chili.

      If your coconut milk seems thinner, I would recommend adding it until a good consistency has been reached, rather than dumping the whole can in. Or if you have time, you can also just simmer it until it reduces a bit, which will also concentrate the flavors.

      • It was the coconut milk. I’ve since used Thai Kitchen (I’ve made it a few times- it’s so easy and good) and it’s got great texture. I’m doubling it and making it again this weekend for friends.

      • Yeah, it’s amazing how much one coconut milk can differ from another. Funny you commented on this today, I’m making a huge batch tonight too!

  3. Looks fantastic, I’ll be fixing this in the near future. How’d you think to use coconut milk? Was it in the original (pre-adapted) recipe?

  4. I definitely want to try this! I’m always looking for new and different recipes. Question for you- have you ever thought to add pumpkin to this? I have some cans of pumpkin and I’ve used it in chili before. Thoughts?

    PS Found you via Jimmy Moore’s podcast- I really like your blog! :-D

  5. Andrew Wolfsont Reply 01/17/2012 at 5:46 pm

    Great recipe! I really like how easy chili’s are but they do get old after awhile. This is also a delicious way to get enough fat with your chili without having to serve it up with avocado slices.

    A word to the wise… if you dont want to simmer with the top off for 2 hours, like I had to the first time I made it, just use the cream part of the coconut milk. To make sure the cream separates from the coconut water in the can, just store the coconut milk in the fridge for at least a few hours, then scoop out the cream on top.

    I also tried it with the canned pumpkin and it was real tasty! Goes so well with the garam masala and coconut milk. Just up the spices and your good to go.

    If you like it spicy try putting some thai chilies in with the onions.

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