Of gourmets and epitaphs..

 Hmmmm… I have been advised by a good friend back in Chennai that I should not just keep blogging my culinary adventures in America but also eat in as many strange places as possible – they make for better posts – in his opinion! Thank you, Chandru – I am truly touched by your willingness to sacrifice my stomach – not!
But in the interests of my readers, with an altruistic heart and a tummy pitter pattering with trepidation – I am going to do just that! And if I perish in the process, remember to think of me… maybe even put up a gravestone… and if Shakespeare and million other great men could do it, why not me? So here’s a couple of self-written epitaphs:
Here lies Anu
She loved her dinner
Oh, and her family too!
Or how about this?
Here lie the bones 
of a gourmand
who thought herself
a gourmet.
She failed in French, you see.
Or this one, writer’s choice:
She asked what she could do for her readers…
She asked “what’s for lunch?”
She said yes to breakfast cereal to ward off death 
You know what  she died of – pencil shavings are not edible!
Readers are welcome to send in more! I will pick one and the winner gets to choose any THREE dishes from my blog to serve up at a bang-up dinner!
And so back to day 1 – what, you thought it was finished? – I blogged only one dish, remember?
So here i am, sitting at this veggie diner, waves of jet lag (very akin to having had one too many!) washing over me and then the waitress – are all restaurant service people in Amreeka trained to be so chirpy and polite? – puts down this enormous dish of a red, beany thing. Looks like rajma but I’ve never tackled such a X-sized helping before! So I start eating it and it’s… interesting – beany but too much tomato paste,  i  think to myself. Then after a very long while, the tomato-ey-ness stops and I get an upma-ness! Whaaa… grain??
I look at the menu again – it is quinoa chili! So there’s this large bunch of quinoa down there and the chili is all over and… well, I dig my way through as much as I can – it grows on me – chewy and savoury and altogether satisfying! And oh, I wasn’t wrong – upma-ey too!
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

5 large tomatoes – chunked

2 cups rajma / kidney beans  or black beans – soaked overnight and pressure cooked till tender

1 green capsicum, chopped

1 red capsicum, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 tbsp tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or mixed dired herbs

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
Avocado slices to serve
  • Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno pepper, tabasco and herbs.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, stir in the reserved quinoa and corn. Cook to reheat the corn for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the coriander  to serve. And avocado on top.

You just might find “Chili” written on my heart!