I was walking to the T station in Boston, after Happy hour, feeling friendly with the world. I saw the people at the traffic light waiting to cross the road looking straight ahead, the old man in the wheelchair who seemed to be talking to everybody passing by, the office goers briskly walking by, joggers and tourists in hats. I was smiling, humming a Tamil song softly.
Nobody seemed to know that I was new, that I wasn’t from here. I kind of fit in.
“Chipotle, Hey Chipotle!” a young man called to me as he walked past me, laughing loudly.
I turned to look if he was referring to someone else. He wasn’t.
I felt my cheeks flush. I realized he meant to insult me but I didn’t understand. I liked Chipotle.
Why was Chipotle funny or low? And I wasn’t Chipotle.
I was idli, sambar, biryani, idiyappam,
maanga oorukai, adhirasam,
upma, full meals, molaga bajji!
“Who you? Sandwich? ” – I didn’t ask.
I sat in the train wondering.
Back home, people were more informed. They’d learn your caste, sub-caste, sect and division and then call you that – “ Iyer $%&*, mudaliar $%^#, &*@# Nadar …”
This guy had mixed up entire countries. I realized that these guys didn’t know and didn’t care if I was Mexican or Indian or Pakistani or Egyptian. They knew they were white. Black and all shades of brown were lower.
I checked myself in the train window. I thought I looked exotic among my fellow passengers – brown skin, long hair, kohl lined eyes, kurta and salwar. It could have been the alcohol. I plugged in my i-pod and chose the most Tamil song I could think of. I made a mental note to eat at Chipotle the next day.
I made a Chipotle inspired rice bowl a couple of days back. This is to the guy who thought he insulted me by calling me “Chipotle”. I am not insulted.
It is super easy, if you skip most of the toppings you find at Chipotle. I dare say we loved the simple version. No Guacamole, no sour cream, no lettuce and no chips. If you have all of these, by all means pile them on.
I had some leftover grilled chicken I cut up and sautéed with onions and spices. I cooked some basmati rice and made the simplest beans ever. Finish with an easy salsa and grated cheese for that Chipotle meal. Enjoy!
- Grilled chicken – 400 gm diced
- Onion – 1 large sliced
- Capsicum – ½ sliced
- Cumin powder – ¾ tsp
- Paprika powder – ¾ tsp
- Salt to taste
- Oil – 2 tbsp
- White Rajma – 200 gm soaked overnight
- Water as necessary
- Onion – 1 small pureed
- Tomato – 2 pureed
- Garlic powder – ½ tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Paprika powder – 1 tsp
- Kashmiri Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Tomato – 1 large chopped fine
- Green chilli – 1 minced
- Green Capsicum – ½ chopped fine
- Lemon juice – ½ a lemon
- Coriander leaves – a handful chopped fine
- Salt to taste
- Sugar – ½ tsp
- Cheddar Cheese grated – 100 gm (please substitute with your favourite cheese)
- Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. Once soaked for 7-8 hours, drain the water, rinse the beans well and transfer the beans to a pressure cooker. Cover with water. Pour in pureed onions and tomatoes. Stir to combine well. Close and pressure cook for about 10-15 minutes or till soft. Open the pressure cooker lid, add cumin powder, garlic powder, red chilli powder, paprika powder and salt and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook un-covered till the beans is thick. Mash lightly. Stir. Switch off when it is your desired consistency.
- Soak basmati rice for 20 minutes. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Drain the water from the rice and gently drop the rice into the boiling water. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or till rice is cooked through but not mushy. Switch off and drain the water from the rice. Set aside the cooked rice. You may cook rice in a rice cooker or pressure cooker too if that suits you better.
- Combine all ingredients for salsa in a bowl. Mix well and mash lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
- For the chicken, you may use any lightly spiced cooked chicken. I had leftover grilled chicken that I needed to use up. Dice up your chicken into bite sized pieces. To a wok/pan, add oil. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and saute till they turn translucent. Add the diced chicken and mix well. Add the spice powders and salt and toss well. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the sliced capsicum and toss for another 2 minutes. Switch off. Set aside the chicken.
- To serve, divide the rice between 4 or 5 bowls. Pile on the chicken divvying them between the bowls. Spoon some beans onto each bowl. Add a dash of salsa and a top with cheese. Serve hot.