Southeast Asia, South America and sinful soup

Includes Machupicchu Peruvian Cuisine in Raleigh, NC, and a link to Anthony Bourdain’s mushroom soup recipe

(I love alliteration, don’t you?)

Home-cooked thali

Last week, Mom and I were treated to a veritable feast of Indian delights from my friends the Nayaks. Vaishali has been wanting to prepare butter chicken for my mother (it’s one of her favorites) for a long time, and it finally happened last Friday night.

I have to tell you that with its contrasting flavors and textures, Indian food is the perfect antidote to the traditional American Thanksgiving meal.

We started off with practically enough “snacks” to fill us completely up. I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember with certainty what some of them were called, but all were delicious. The assortment included a nice soup, vada (donut-like things made of lentil flour) and pani puri (I think they’re called — crunchy hollow spheres with small holes broken in the tops so they can be filled with liquidy goodness, and that you must eat in one big-mouthed bite to avoid a big mess). But my favorite of the snacks were delectable pieces of fried tilapia served with mint chutney.

Dinner was even more expansive, served buffet style — thank goodness, since there’s no way it would all have fit onto the table! Are you ready for the list? Indian “salad,” butter chicken, channa masala (chickpea dish), aloo gobi (cauliflower dish), saag paneer (spinach and fresh cheese dish) and rice. The saag paneer was especially excellent. Whenever I’ve eaten it in restaurants it’s pleasant but kind of bland. Vaishali’s version had a more complex taste and a little touch of heat.

And finally, even though I didn’t think I could consume even one more bite, the ras malai dessert was a first for me. It was a soft paneer patty soaked in that yummy cardamom-flavored cream like Indian rice pudding.

I’ll have to take a break before eating restaurant Indian food again, so I don’t make too harsh a comparison …

Peruvian goodness

Raleigh’s ethnic restaurant horizons are really expanding lately. A Peruvian restaurant! And it’s right down the street from me.

Machupicchu Peruvian Cuisine is a tiny eatery-in-a-strip-shopping-center. Even though it was packed when we arrived, we snagged a table right away and service throughout the evening was speedy.

I’d known beforehand that Peru claims ceviche as one of its national dishes, but I didn’t imagine it could equal Panama’s version.

I was wrong.

Machupicchu’s “leche de tigre” (tiger’s milk) ceviche marinade is more opaque and colorful than Panama’s. Very limey. (If you’ve never had ceviche, it’s basically seafood chemically “cooked” by lime juice.) And nice and spicy thanks to some sort of yellow pepper. White corn and yams were also in the dish. (Peruvian cuisine is apparently very big on potatoes and corn, and both were well represented on the restaurant’s menu. So you might want to re-think visited if you’re on one of those silly low-carb regimes.)

My entree was trout smothered in mint sauce, with quinoa and “vegetables” (a type of salsa, more accurately) served alongside.

The name of Mom’s dish — chupe de camarones, or shrimp soup — was deceptively simple sounding. It was thick and rich, and in addition to the dozen-plus shrimp, contained rice, cream, egg, potatoes (of course) and more. The chef presented the soup with a flourish, in a large tureen. It was such a big serving there was enough left over for my dinner the following night.

Sinful soup

So many people online — and my mother — enthused so much about a wonderful Anthony Bourdain mushroom soup recipe that I finally tried it.

Yikes! Yes, it was good, but evil, I tell you!

I know it doesn’t look like much, and the complex flavor of the final result seems impossible with just six very simple ingredients. But here’s why: butter. Lots of it.

And a long simmering. In fact, all the ingredients — four full cups of stock and all those mushrooms — cooked down to about two servings. I ate one of them for my dinner, and was surprised I didn’t feel sick after imbibing three tablespoons of butter!

I could practically feel it coursing through my veins, and took myself out for a fast walk in the brisk winter weather. When I returned home and prepared to wash dishes, I was faced with a solidified layer of butter coating the saucepan and ladle.

Don’t get me wrong: I love butter as much as the next person. But wow. Mom and I agreed that the soup is probably best suited for very small, pre-meal servings.

So, here’s the recipe. Prepare at your own risk if you have any cholesterol worries!

About atarheeltastes

I'm a passionate foodie who started this "temporary" blog during a gustatory tour of Tuscany. I decided to continue, since I love to dream about, plan for, prepare, eat and write about food!
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1 Response to Southeast Asia, South America and sinful soup

  1. Pingback: foodie guide to santiago chile | Bohemian Trails

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