The TexMex dish that is chili is of course traditionally and almost always made with beef, be it ground beef, chuck or whatever. While purists may argue that diversifying from using beef when preparing chili means the finished dish can not be classed as chili, there are others (like me) who argue that there is no such thing as the perfect recipe or one which can not be improved upon to at least some extent and the best technique for ultimate improvement is surely experimentation. This recipe was devised not simply through having an idea for making a turkey chili (which has of course been done before) but when I was gifted a large number of yellow and green (unripened) tomatoes from a family member's hothouse/greenhouse at the end of the growing season, together with a large tub of both green and red, medium sized and medium strength chili peppers. 

Turkey and Green Tomato Chili with Tortilla Chips
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Turkey and mixed tomatoes chili served with spicy tortilla chips

Tip! - When buying ground turkey, try to ensure it is thigh meat. This works far better than leg or particularly breast meat.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Chilies, Tomatoes and Onion
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Mixed tomatoes, chilis and onion

  • 1 pound ground turkey thigh meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (little extra may be needed)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 small to medium green tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 small to medium yellow tomatoes, quartered
  • 14 ounce can chopped red tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 medium strength red chili, topped and sliced in to discs
  • 1 medium strength green chili, topped and sliced in to discs
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf), plus extra to garnish
  • Splash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • Spicy chili tortilla chips to serve


Toasting Cumin Seeds
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Toasting whole cumin seeds

The cumin seeds could be used whole in this recipe or indeed you could use (half the amount of) already ground cumin. What I find though is that it is more than worth taking a minute or two to toast the whole seeds in a dry frying pan before grinding them yourself. It really does seem to give the served chili a little extra special flavor.

The first simple step is to bring a dry, non-stick frying pan up to a medium to high heat. Add the cumin seeds and heat for about a minute, shaking the pan regularly to keep them moving around and ensure even toasting. The seeds are essentially done when you can smell them cooking and they have darkened only very slightly in color.

Grinding Cumin Seeds
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cumin seeds are ground to a powder

You could subsequently use an electric grinder to grind the seeds but I prefer to use an old fashioned pestle and mortar to make them in to a powder. When they are hot, they are exceptionally easy to grind in this way.


Starting to Brown Ground Turkey
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Seasoned ground turkey is added to pot with a little oil

Put a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a large pot and put the pot on to a medium heat. Add the ground turkey and season with a little salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to stir the turkey around the pot constantly for a couple of minutes until it has separated and is evenly sealed.

Browned Ground Turkey
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Browned ground turkey

When it is sealed, the ground turkey should temporarily be removed from the pot to a holding plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the pot but a little bit more oil can be added if necessary.

Sauteeing Onion and Green Tomato
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Sauteeing onion, garlic and green tomatoes

Add the sliced onion, green tomato segments and garlic to the pot and saute for a minute or two - stirring all the time with your wooden spoon - until the onion is just softened and is starting to turn translucent.

Red Tomatoes and Chilies added to Ground Turkey
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Red and yellow tomatoes are added to pot with chilies and seasoning

The ground turkey should now be returned to the pot and stirred through the green tomatoes and onion combination. Pour in the canned tomatoes and add the yellow tomatoes, chilies and ground cumin seeds.

Chili Ingredients are Stirred to Combine
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chili ingredients are carefully stirred together

Stir the mix carefully but well with a wooden spoon and turn the heat up under the pot until the liquid element just begins to simmer. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer as gently as possible for fifteen minutes, stirring about once every five minutes.

Cilantro added to Chili
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cilantro is added to chili

Add the cilantro (coriander leaf) to the chili and stir it through. Bring back to a simmer for two or three more minutes only to allow the herb flavors to be imparted in to the dish. Taste the chili (remembering it will be very hot in terms of temperature) and if necessary, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tabasco Sauce
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tabasco sauce

If you find the chili is not quite as hot as you would like, one easy and simple method of rectifying this is to add a few drops of Tabasco sauce. It should always be remembered of course that this sauce is extremely potent and adding just a drop or two too much could render your chili effectively inedible. Add a couple of drops, stir well and taste again to avoid this scenario.

Chili added to Serving Dish
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chili is spooned in to serving dish and garnsihed with cilantro

While chili is probably most often served with rice (if indeed anything else at all) in this instance I decided to serve it a little differently with a well known brand of spicy tortilla chips. If I had simply plated the chili with the chips, though, some of the chips would be likely to have become instantly soggy so what I did instead was add the chili to deep serving dishes and garnish it with the last of the cilantro. These dishes were then placed on larger plates with the tortilla chips scattered alongside ready for dipping.

Note that the chili can be allowed to cool and be refrigerated to be simply reheated the following night if you want a quick and easy dinner for the table.