Indian-Spiced Turkey Chili

Prep Time 25 min.
Cook Time 54 min.
Total Time 1 hour 19 minutes
Yields About 13 cups


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper (powdered, from the spice aisle)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage (bulk, or links with casings removed)
  • 2 cups chopped red onion (from about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeño (from about 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and cored)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from about 3 large cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 4 cups 1/2"-diced zucchini (from about 20 ounces of zucchini – about 2-3 medium)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped green pepper (from about 2 large peppers, seeded and cored)
  • 2 cups chopped red pepper (from about 2 medium peppers, seeded and cored)
  • 1 16-ounce can red chili beans in medium-spiced chili sauce
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fat-free, reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 10-ounce can mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained (such as mild Ro-Tel)
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • optional toppings and garnishes: thinly sliced green onions, shredded reduced-fat cheese, reduced-fat sour cream


  1. Pre-measure all spices (curry powder through chipotle chile pepper), so they're ready to be added together. Set aside about 1 teaspoon of spice mixture, reserving it to be added at the end of cooking. Preheat a large pot (I adore my Lodge Dutch Oven) over medium heat. Add spices (except 1 reserved teaspoon) all at once and toast for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Immediately add olive oil and stir briefly. Then quickly add sausage, onion, jalapeño, garlic, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Continue cooking until sausage is no longer pink, stirring to crumble sausage and loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add zucchini, green pepper, red pepper, chili beans, broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce, and stir to combine. Cover chili and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a low simmer.
  4. During about the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add reserved 1 teaspoon of spices and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt, stirring well to thoroughly combine.
  5. Serve with optional toppings and garnishes, if desired.


Recipe Notes

Spiciness: In the post, we mentioned a number of options for making this chili even more mild or amping up the heat. To make it milder, you can reduce the amounts of jalapeño pepper, chili powder and chipotle chile pepper, and to make it hotter, you can use more of those ingredients, leave the seeds and membranes in the jalapeño, select hot Italian turkey sausage instead of mild, use original (spicier) Ro-Tel instead of mild, and even sub in canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of the tiny bit of powdered chipotle chile pepper we use here.
Sambar Powder: If you're able to find sambar powder and would like to use it in this turkey chili, try using 2 teaspoons in place of the coriander, cumin and cinnamon. At the end of cooking, taste the chili and adjust slightly if you'd like to bring out any of those flavors more, either by adding a little more sambar powder, or a pinch of the individual spices.
Make-ahead tips: As we mentioned in the post, you can measure out the spices (curry powder through chipotle chile pepper) ahead of time. You can also chop the vegetables earlier in the day or even the night before, and store them, covered, in the refrigerator. In addition, this chili reheats beautifully, and like most chili recipes, its flavors are just as good if not even better after a day or two. So, you can also make the chili completely ahead, gently reheating before serving.

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