23 March 2011

Minar Indian Restaurant

After venturing out to the Post Office around lunchtime, I was lured into a cafeteria-style Indian restaurant offering 10 different dosas - basically I can't turn down any food if it's encased in a delicious, starchy wrapper. And I'm glad I went to Minar - the dosa was top-notch, tasty if a little on the soggy side in places after my trek back to the office. The potato-and-pea filling was solid, but the real standouts were the coconut chutney on the side (could eat a cup of that) and the sambar. Man, the sambar - super-flavorful, savory, and with a slow-building burn that set my scalp pleasantly sweating. And at $5.95 for the masala dosa ($7.25 for the paneer, which I plan on trying in the future), an excellently economical and filling lunch.

22 March 2011

Butter beans from Scotland

One of the goals of the week end in Edinburgh was to get my hands on some stuff that I either can't find or aren't that great tasting in Slovakia. My friend took me to the local organic store, and I returned with curry leaves, massala, shortbread cookies (hey, when in Scotland...), some lentils, and those huge, lovely butter beans (half a kilo).

As soon as we got back to the landlocked country, I soaked half of them in anticipation of today's lunch.

Google gave me this recipe option: Butter Beans in Sesame (incidently, submitted by someone in Glasgow).

This is how I adapted it:


half a Tblspoon olive oil
quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 and a half Tblspoon sesame seeds
one small onion, chopped into small pieces (not just strands)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of Hungarian spicy paprika
half a teaspoon of salt
about a cup of cooked butter beans
2 cups of chopped fresh spinach

Popped the cumin seeds in the olive oil on medium-low heat in a non-stick pan (the only pan I have). Added the onion for about 5 minutes. Added the ground cumin, mixed and a minute later added the sesame seeds. 3 minutes later added the turmeric, paprika and salt. Mixed, waited a minute, and added the butter beans, mixing well so that the beans were covered in the spices and sesame seeds, but without turning them into a mush. Then I folded in the spinach (it was left over in the fridge, didn't look too good for a salad). Cooked the whole thing for another three minutes, until the spinach was cooked.

Nice mixture of spices. It reminded me of the Greek dish with fava beans in tomato/cinnamon sauce. Basically, if I'd gone ahead with adding the chopped tomato can early on, and added cinnamon,I could have been in for a similar treat. But this was a very nice surprise find, and the mild butter beans are a very good template on which to lather spices. I recommend the butter beans, cooked with a piece of kombu and a clove of garlic, even though it takes an hour and a half on the stove (I really need to get myself a pressure cooker...).

09 March 2011

Great Burrito Mexican Fast Food Restaurant & Pizza

At first blush, a hole-in-the-wall lunch place with not just tacos and pizza but also pitas and "Italian Heroes" on the menu is not going to be a winner. But going on a recommendation from a friend, I decided to give Great Burrito a go and am glad I did. In addition to tacos, the Mexican side of the menu (where I'd advise you stay) also features burritos, tortas, quesadillas, tostadas, sopes, enchiladas and huaraches. Meat choices go from chicken, steak, chorizo, to pork carnitas and al pastor, lengua and "a la casa" (chicken, beef and pork together). For the first test-run I went with one chicken taco and one each carnitas and al pastor.

The tacos (at $2.50/per) were big enough that two would've sufficed, but I'm glad I tried all three. Each was complimented with raw onions, cilantro and a salsa particular to the taco, and each featured very nicely differentiated marinade. The al pastor was savory and a little sweet, pork meltingly delicious and tender. The carnitas were spicier and had a nice pepper edge to the flavor, while the chicken was oddly but nicely definitely marinated in soy sauce (in part, at any rate), and nicely charred. Served with a wedge of lemon (not lime) each, washed down with a Jarritos Mandarina, a truly excellent lunch. Definitely worth a return trip, or worth stopping by if you work in this part of town or find yourself here around food-time.