No..I don’t really have any excuses for my long silence. Call it a mix of emotions, the elation after the November election results or the shock and utter disbelief at the attrocities of the Mumbai massacre, November was an emotionally draining month. Enough to get one out of a writer’s block, but not so in my case. I have about 4 “drafts” in my blog dashboard that are begging to be finished, but unfortunately may remain drafts until something else inspires me to finish them. The good news is that while I couldn’t get myself to write, I continued to experiment with food, both the cooking and the tasting of it:) That was my way of battling the depressing news outside…my distraction.
The one thing that I did do religiously everyday…to fuel my Roz Ka Khana (everyday food) was experiment with Nikhil’s lunch, of course, and add to the Lunchbox series that I started a while back. All in draft mode! So here is the second of the daily lunchbox musings…inspired by none other than Chipotle!
The burritos at Chipotle are a favorite in my family and beat all other Mexican fast food eateries hands down, so it was no wonder this became Nikhil’s favorite lunchbox item.
Burritos always remind me of the time when I first came to this country and started attending school in Illinois. I was just a week old on the University of Illinois campus and was just starting to explore the places to hang out or just eat a decent meal. I missed home, and my roomies were still warming up to me, so eating at home wasn’t always an option, especially since the groceries weren’t all mine anyway! I was starting to get tired of eating the “cheeseburger with no meat” at MickeyD’s…it just wasn’t the same as eating the vegetable cheese burger at Universal’s in Hyderabad!
And so it was on a billboard on Green Street that I spotted this sign that read “Burritos as big as your head” with a guy sporting a burrito on his head like a sombrero. I’d heard from other Indian friends that the cuisine was similar to Indian cuisine…the rice and beans reminded one of rajma chawal (rice and red kidney beans curry) and the tortillas were similar to chapathis (Indian bread) but I had actually never eaten a burrito before.
And so I found myself at La Bamba restaurant to get my first taste of this “chapathi-rajma” combo. Only to realize that they weren’t joking when they said “as big as my head”. I was asked to choose my fixings and being quite ignorant, I added everything that was meatless in there. The result was this humungous burrito almost bursting at the seams from having an overdose of ingredients. One bite into it and I gagged. There were 2 kinds of beans (didn’t know I needed to choose only one), guacamole, extra cheese , sour cream, lettuce, salsa and the rice….the spanish rice I had this taste I definitely didn’t like very much. Or it was just my gluttony attempt at stuffing more than 5 ingredients into a simple, soft tortilla and probably overstimulating my senses.
Anyway, that experience made me wary of the huge burritos and I lived on Taco Bell’s Bean and cheese burrito for the next year in school, always steering clear of the rice. When Chipotle opened in my neighborhood, I experimented with rice again only because it looked different from the spanish rice. It somehow reminded me of the Indian lemon rice and needless to say, I’ve been hooked to Chipotle since. I suppose it makes you think that the Indian-ness to the dish is probably what makes me like it so much? Probably so…and did I mention the spice?
This recipe was an attempt to mimic the Chipotle experience at home, maybe a tad Indian-ised with the tomato chutney/salsa added to it instead of the Chipotle salsa, but I think the overall flavor was not far off at all. As I said earlier, it is a staple lunch menu at my house, so is an addition to the Lunchbox series…I have also tried it with an even more Indianised tomato chutney and the taste gets even better according to me.
Chipotle style Cilantro and Lime rice
1 tsp butter
2 tsp chopped cialntro
2/3 cup white basmati rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute.Transfer to a rice cooker. Add water and salt and cook till done. Add in the cilantro and fluff rice with a fork.
Canned or washed and boiled black beans – 1 can or 1 cup beans
2 tbsp salsa
Garam Masala (optional)
1. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the salsa to the hot oil and the garam masala and heat till it starts to boil lightly.
2. Add the black beans, mix well and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
1. Take a flour tortilla. Add some chopped lettuce, the lime rice, salsa, black beans, sour cream and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Add fillings, lengthwise.
Layer the contents down the center of the tortilla, lengthwise. If you’re using a 12 inch large tortilla, the filling can be up to 4 inches wide and approximately 7 inches long. Leave at least 4 inches on the bottom end of the filling.
2. First Fold.
Fold the short end of the tortilla up. This keeps the contents from spilling out from the bottom.
3. Second Fold.
Fold one of the long sides over the top of the filling. Place your fingers perpendicular across the fold, cup the tortilla over the filling and push the edge against the filling to make sure the fold is tight.
4. Third fold.
Wrap the remaining long end over both folds.
I packed the burrito with some sour cream or salsa for dipping, or a mix of sour cream and salsa as a dip. Sliced peach, yoghurt and a leftover brownie cake for dessert makes for a hearty lunch, don’t you agree?