The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 60

Rasam

Sopa de Res

at Taaza

60

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

Red Lentil Soup
at Zorba

At Zorba, Adel Eltawansy imbues
his Greek-Mediterranean fare
with plenty of heart and soul-and
the soups are no exception. You
might be swayed by seasonal flavors
like butternut squash or cream
of mushroom, but don't overlook
standbys like the black bean and red
lentil.
The slow-simmered black bean
has long been a favorite since
Zorba's Roanoke Market Building
days, but the red lentil is the menu's
sleeper hit. Onion and garlic get
nice and toasty in hot oil before
Eltawansy adds in red lentils, fresh
diced tomato, cumin and a healthy
dose of paprika, which helps the
soup maintain its namesake color
after the lentils cook. Once the
flavors meld and the soup simmers,
it's blended by hand to create a
thick, almost creamy texture.
Ask for a wedge of fresh lemon
on the side; a squeeze really
brightens up the dish and is how
Eltawansy likes to eat it, too.
And don't forget pita for
mopping up the last dregs.

There's beef stew, and then there's
Rincon Catracho's sopa de res, a
Honduran beef stew that's like soup on
steroids. First, it's huge (so don't fill
up on the complimentary chips and
salsa); the bowl is so large and the
plume of steam so inviting, it makes
you wish you could literally dive right
in. The stew is brimming with hearty
chunks of carrot, potato and yucca,
half a cob of corn and two generous
beef shanks.
Squeeze the fresh lime wedge over
the top, then dig in, spooning up some
broth, a piece of meltingly tender beef
and perhaps a chunk of starchy yucca or
tender-sweet carrot for a composed bite.
The soup also comes with rice and a short
stack of warm, homemade corn tortillas,
making for a complete meal. It's large
enough to satisfy hearty appetites but can
easily be shared, particularly when paired
with a tamale.
Put Rincon Catracho in heavy rotation
on your winter soup hit list: there's also
a Honduran-style chicken soup, sopa de
mariscos, seafood soup in a coconut broth,
or mondongo, tripe soup. I

TheRoanoker.com

RASAM: JULIANNE RAINONE JACOB / RED LENTIL SOUP: COURTESY OF ZORBA / SOPA DE RES: LAYLA KHOURY-HANOLD

Rasam is a fragrant, sour,
sometimes spicy, broth-y soup that
is a specialty of south Indian cuisine
and a mainstay on the menu at Taaza.
Tamarind, which comes from the
pulp of pod-like fruits, gives rasam
its distinct sour-tangy undertone. It
is one of the main ingredients, along
with tomato, ginger and garlic. From
there, other ingredients can be added;
for Taaza's daily rasam, flavors include
the likes of black pepper, mango,
pineapple or lentil.
Rasam can be ordered a la carte but is
often served as part of the lunch buffet,
where a recent iteration included a fiery
number seasoned with chili, cumin,
coriander and turmeric,
tempered with mustard
and cumin seeds.
Taaza's coowner Sara
Radjou says
that most
households
drink rasam
daily to aid
with digestion,
particularly
with midday
meals which tend
to be the biggest of
the day (as a result, it's
also served on most restaurant
menus in India, too). It's also wellknown as a comfort food and Indian
mothers' first line of defense for all
manner of ails; Radjou remembers her
own mother serving it to her with rice
whenever she was sick.

at Rincon Catracho Restaurant


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The Roanoker - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - January/February 2020

The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 3
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