Curry-ous Bird (Lentil Chicken Chili)

Music Pairing: Still, Panamanian Dances


It was time for us to contribute to a chili cook-off for a friend’s function.  Only neither of us are huge fans of chili, per se, and the elements that we like do not coincide: Afa will eat beans of almost any kind but has given up all meat, including all birds.  Aaron does not favor beans, though he loves lentils and could eat occasional chicken…so, it was improv time.  We came up with a lentil chicken chili, with a twist of curry!  In general, one of our kitchen philosophies is such that almost anything with a curry is a winner, so when in doubt, we think of ways to add some creativity to convention.  We did win the chili cook-off competition, and our recipe was selected for its uniqueness.  We pair taste-bud pleaser with William Grant Still’s Panamanian Dances for String Quartet, with a nod to Aaron’s early college years and a chamber music experience shared at that time with our chili cook-off host.


  • 3 C red lentils
  • 8 C cold water
  • 1 whole garlic, crushed
  • 1 C red onions, diced
  • 1 chicken breast, with fat trimmed
  • 2 C fresh tomatoes, diced
  • ½ C chili peppers, diced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 t Salt
  • 2 t Adobo seasoning
  • 1 T pepper
  • 2 dred or canned chipotle peppers
  • 1t  Aleppo seasoning (or cayenne, if not available)
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T curry
  • Optional: 1 cup of chopped cilantro and 1 cup of sharp shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Wash and rinse the lentils. Set aside
  2. In a large slow-cooker, combine the chicken, the bay leaf and all of the spices
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic
  4. Add the water
  5. Set the setting on high for 3 hours, after which, reduce it to low and continue cooking for another 2 hours
  6. Serve with the optional chopped cilantro and shredded cheese on the side

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