Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Chipotle Style Chicken Burrito Bowl

"Foods are memories" - The Hundred Foot journey

Couldn't agree more with the statement. There are certain foods in our lives which brings back a lot of fond thoughts. Like the smell of boiled beans. It might sound weird, but it reminds me of the days when I was a little girl and my mom used to feed me. She made sure I ate lots of veggies in every form.She used to tell stories around the food to make the meal interesting. Like one spoonful of rice would become an apple tree and the next would be an orange tree and so on. Soon my entire plate would become an orchard and it was my choice which tree I wanted to eat first. I don't remember the smell of anything else but somehow the smell of boiled beans always takes me 25 years back.

Similarly when someone mentions about Mexican food, I remember not Tacos but the lovely Chicken burrito bowl. And not just any Burrito bowl but Chipotle's signature Chicken burrito bowl. Yummmmm!

When I was staying in California, I was so close to the borders of Mexico. We even visited Tijuana a border city of Mexico. But then I was only aware of tacos as a Mexican food. Me and my room mate were really foolish not to try out the Mexican food even when we had the chance. Actually the lanes and by lanes of Tijuana appeared pretty shady, with wrinkled old ladies looking at us strangely and rough looking men standing at most of the places. The small joints also looked a bit intimidating with the dark ambiance and billowing smoke inside. Being only two girls on a road trip we didn't venture into what seemed like trouble. During my entire stay in California we always ate home cooked food apart from the weekends when we would go on road trips. Unbelievable but sadly true. A foodie like me never got to explore local cuisine!

Original Chipotle burrito bowl
In my next stint in US while I was in Atlanta my then roommate would not cook ever. The maximum she would do is make a toast and tea breakfast for herself everyday. And at all other times it would either be Subway, Panera Bread other such joints. During one of our weekend shopping's at Perimeter Centre she stopped at Chipotle to get her dinner packed. That was the very first time I ever entered a Chipotle outlet. My roommate ordered a vegetarian burrito bowl. My interest was piqued watching the layers of food items being placed in the white paper bowls - they looked fresh and wholesome. I didn't hesitate to order a chicken burrito bowl for myself. The best part of Chipotle was you could specify the things you wanted in the bowl. After the bowl was handed over to me I kept looking for a few seconds at the heap of food the bowl contained. My roommate explained the process of eating it - we should mix everything together and then eat. What no particular table manner to be followed? We had to just mix and dig in? Immediately I felt at home! It was then love at first bite. From then on I made a point every week to visit Chipotle at least once. For team lunch also Chipotle used to be the most voted place. Unfortunately in India we have all kinds of international food brands but no Chipotle. I don't understand it at all. If pizzas and burgers could gel into our food culture why not proper Mexican food like burritos? Mexican food very much resembles the Indian palate. I just wish someday even a Chipotle would open up somewhere here in Pune. Fingers crossed.

Yesterday while talking my mother mentioned about burrito bowl prepared by chef Sanjiv Kapoor on a food show. I had once prepared a chicken burrito bowl for her and she was comparing it with the one prepared by the chef and she didn't sound pleased about the chef's recipe. From what I heard about the recipe it was a very low on seasoning simplified Desi version of the original burrito bowl. And it was a paneer burrito bowl moreover. That's when I decided to post this recipe which copies the actual Chipotle recipe. The taste is very much similar to chipotle. Only thing maybe you would notice some seasoning difference due to the chillies we get here if different from the traditional ones used for the recipe. Alert: It may look like a laundry list of items and procedure. But once you get everything together its worth the effort. My mother who had never tasted burrito earlier had praised the recipe as well. So here it is:

Preparation Time: 40 minutes  

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 2

Cuisine: Mexican


Marinade -
  • Boneless Chicken breast halves - 7-8 pieces
  • Lime - 1/2 juiced
  • Fresh Cilantro - 1 handful finely chopped
  • Chipotle peppers/ dry red chilli whole - 2 
  • Refined Oil - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Cloves of garlic - 4 grated
  • salt as per taste
Fajita Seasoning -
  • Ancho Chili / Normal Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder- 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika - 1/2 tsp
  • Crushed Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Dried Oregano power - 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Corn Salsa -
  • Boiled Corn - 1 cup
  • Onion - 1 small chopped
  • Lemon juice - 1 tsp or as per taste
  • Salt as per taste
Sour Cream-
  • Heavy cream - 1 cup 
  • Curd - 1/4th cup
  • White Vinegar - 1/2 tsp 
  • An airtight bowl
Black Beans-
  • Lima Beans or any black beans - 200 gm
  • Onion - 1 medium sized chopped
  • Garlic Cloves - 2 fat crushed
  • Bay Leaf - 2
  • Tomato - 1 medium chopped
  • Black Pepper  - 1 tsp crushed
  • Garam Masala powder - 1 pinch (optional)
  • Green Chili - 2-3 chopped
  • Butter - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Salt as per taste
Cilantro Lime Rice -
  • Basmati rice - 200 gm
  • Fresh Cilantro - 1 handful minced
  • Lime/Lemon - 1/2 juiced 
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp crushed
  • Butter - 1 tsp
  • Bay Leaf - 1
  • Salt as per taste
Others -
  • Lettuce (optional)
  • Tomatoes - 1 chopped
  • Onions - 1 sliced
  • Yellow Bell Pepper- 1/2 sliced
  • Butter
1. Prepping the chicken: In a mixing bowl combine the chicken and its marinade. In another bowl combine the ingredients mentioned under Fajita seasoning with the refined oil. Add this fajita seasoning paste to the chicken and toss everything to coat the chicken evenly. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.

You can use Olive oil instead of refined oil

2. Cooking the Chicken: Heat 2 tsp of butter in a skillet. Add the marinated chicken in a single layer. Cook on high flame for about 5-6 minutes each side taking care the chicken doesn't get burnt.

Cooking the chicken on high heat will retain the moisture inside while its well done on the outside. Thus you will get a juicy chicken.

3. Making the Fajita: The word "faja" is Spanish for belt or girdle and "fajita" is the diminutive form. Traditionally they were made of grilled strips of skirt steak though now you can get the same thing in variants of chicken and shrimp. The meat is seared to retain its juiciness and served with sauteed juliennes of bell peppers and onion.
To make the fajita for this recipe place the seared chicken from step 2 on a chopping board. Slice the chicken into rough bite sized pieces. Keep them warm and ready to eat.

4. Preparing Black Beans: Soak the black beans overnight. Wash and drain the water. Switch on the heat. Place a pressure cooker on the stove and add butter. When the butter melts add the bay leaf, pepper powder, garlic, onion, tomato, green chilli one by one. Fry for a minute till fragrant. Add soaked black beans and water. Add garam masala, salt and sugar. Note here sugar is just to balance the taste, the cooked beans should not taste sweet.

Cook it for 2-3 whistles or enough time for the kind of beans you are using. Once done let it rest till the pressure dies and then open the lid. With a spatula give a nice stir or two and slightly mash a handful of the beans. This would help in increasing the consistency of the beans gravy.

The traditional recipe demands lima beans. But I didn't find them here. So I used a similar looking small sized black colored beans. the local grocer shop told me its also known as Rajma only. So unfortunately I don't know the exact name. You can also use Kashmiri Rajma which is smaller in size to the normal Rajma and tastes much better.

5. Preparing Sour Cream: Mix all the ingredients mentioned under sour cream and keep it in a air tight container for 8-10 hours at room temperature. After that the sour cream can be refrigerated and had for a week.

Altering the amount of curd and vinegar may alter the sourness in the Sour cream so take care of the proportions.

6. Preparing the add ons: Chop yellow Bell pepper and onion into juliennes. Fry both of them separately until the Bell peppers are crunchy and onions are a little soft. Add some sugar while frying to make them sweeter. Keep both of them aside.

I suggest you use yellow Bell pepper because they are sweeter than the red or green version. Also we don't want the characteristic smell of green Bell pepper to overpower all other flavours of this dish. Yellow ones taste better and does not have a strong smell.
7. Preparing the Rice: Heat the pressure cooker. Add butter, coarsely ground pepper powder and bay leaf. Add rice. Add double the amount of water. Adjust salt and sugar. Cook the rice for necessary whistles. When vapour escapes add finely chopped cilantro and dash of lime juice and fork the rice evenly.

Since we add lime juice after the rice is cooked hence salt has to be added to balance the taste.
8. Preparing the Corn Salsa: Boil the corn kernels with a pinch of salt. Drain the excess water. Add salt, finely chopped onions and butter and toss to coat the corns evenly.

The traditional recipe has tomato salsa but I do not like it much hence as an alternative corn salsa works pretty well. Specially the little bursts of sweetness that occur with every bite you take really perks up the dish. 
Serving Tip: Layer the rice first in the serving bowl.  Add a layer of black beans on top of the rice bed.  Add the corn salsa. Add the chicken fajita. Add roughly torn lettuce leaves. Sprinkle around the sauteed onions and yellow bell peppers. Top it off with a few springs of cilantro. On one side place a few spoonfuls of sour cream and a wedge of lime. Dig in!

Chipotle also serves the optional guacamole an avocado based dip with the burrito bowl. Most of the people love it but I didn't like it much. Also in Pune I don't find Avocados that frequently in the supermarkets, hence omitted them from the recipe.

By the way do check out the movie "The Hundred Foot Journey" and make sure you don't watch it on an empty stomach. The movie is all about delicious food and a nice little journey of human relationship through food. Madam Mallory would definitely warm the cockles of your heart with her charming presence in this movie set in the rustic country side of France. 

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