I was out of town for a business event last week and managed to combine it with a lot of foodie activity as well. I and my colleague had a lovely Chinese meal where you ticked off the kind of noodles you wanted ( thin/ udon) and the veggies/ non-veggies as well as the sauce and they delivered your order to the table. We paired that with Szechuan chilly potatoes which were awesome and which I have to try out soon, and topped it with an amazing dessert - the Brownie sizzler. They heated up a nice, moist chocolate brownie, added ice cream on the side and then poured a layer of chocolate fudge onto the hot sizzler plate in which they had served the dish. The chocolate turned molten and caramelized at the edges, and was a delicious contrast to the chewy brownie and the cold icecream. This is something I have to try out the next time I have 4-5 people over.
We also had a lovely dinner at the Taj coffee shop. They served a nice rocket salad with blue cheese ( tasted like Roquefort) and caramelized walnuts in a salt-free vinaigrette. It was a rocking combo, and my only two cribs were - less sugar in the dressing, please, and more blue cheese. My boss ordered an awesome mexican black bean soup which was so yummy that I had to recreate it for myself when I got back home. I had it for dinner yesterday, followed by fruit, and it was just right - filling but light, and very more-ish.
The soup used Kidney beans, which are a great source of fiber ( 1 cup provides 45% of the RDA of fiber) and have a low glycaemic index - ideal for anyone trying an Atkins-type diet. They are also a good source of various minerals including manganese, and a good source of protein. Interestingly, all the beans originated in one of the countries I have long been fascinated by - Peru. It seems that they came to South America via the Indians of Peru and then found their way elsewhere in the world.
Black bean soup
1 cup kidney beans ( rajma) cooked using a quick-soak method
1 tbsp olive oil
10 small pods of garlic or 3 large pods
1 tbsp roast coriander powder
3-4 fresh green/ red chillies
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 litre water/ veg stock
Handful coriander leaves, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Soak the dried beans for one hour. Then pressure cook them for 2 whistles. Let them soak for another hour in the pressure cooker itself, and then cook them for 1 whistle with a little baking soda - this reduces the 'gassiness' of beans in general. ( or if you have access, just use pre-cooked canned beans - that's the quickest!)
2. Put the olive oil in a sauce pan and put it on medium heat.
3. Add the coriander powder first and wait for it to give off an aroma. Then add the chillies, onions and garlic in quick succession. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onions are soft.
4. Turn off the heat. Puree the beans together with the coriander powder-onions etc until it turns into a fine mush.
5. Add back to the saucepan with the water/ veg stock. I usually use water with stock cubes.
6. Add the tomato puree, salt and chilli powder and stir to mix. Cook until the soup starts to simmer. If you like, thin it out a bit more to your favourite consistency.
7. Add a bit of the lemon/ lime juice to each bowl of soup, and garnish with coriander leaves, a dash of chopped spring/ red onions ( whichever you have in store) and a bit of tomato. Serve hot.
The soup at the hotel had fried tortilla bits, and you could use that or even roasted papad, broken into bits and added at the very end. It would also pair well with a crusty wholegrain bread. The hotel had also added avocado bits, but they didn't really add much to the flavour. I'd go with red and yellow peppers, for colour and taste.