Delhi goes gaga over Tex-Mex

Delhi goes gaga over Tex-Mex

When Neeti Goyal along with her sister Smriti Goyal decided to open their Mexican restaurant, La Bodega in Delhi, they believed that the “dynamism of the cuisine” and Delhiites’ love for Mexican food would work wonders here.

However, food critic Sourish Bhattacharya believes that it is not Mexican food but Tex-Mex food — which is a fusion of American and Mexican cuisine — that is popular in Delhi.

“I first tried authentic Mexican cuisine in Taj Mahal hotel about 20 years ago. It was chicken crockets in dark chocolate and moles sauce. The combination used in the dish was so different than what a Indian palate craves for. I don’t think that the genuine taste of these Mexican dishes would work with Delhiites,” says Bhattacharya.

Some believe that the similarity between Indian cuisine and Tex-Mex is why people have been able to adapt to it better, as compared to other cuisines like Italian and Chinese.

“Bread-based staples and flat flour-based breads are used in both Indian and Tex-Mex food. Likewise, there is a lot of use of dairy products in both the cuisines and the pungency level is also similar. The amount of ingredients (vegetables and spices) is a lot more than other cuisines,”

explains Chef Vineet Manocha, Corporate chef, Lite Bite foods. Bhattacharya tells Metrolife how Mexican (technically Tex-Mex) food marked its presence in Delhi when the restaurant Rodeo was launched in Connaught Place around 20 years ago.

Opened by Saeed Shervani, the restaurant aimed to promote Tex-Mex culture and became the purveyor of Tex-Mex food with its cow-boy setup.

“Shervani had got chefs from Mexico who used to visit Delhi very often. At least once year, they organised a Mexican food festival here and invited people from Mexican embassy. That’s how the food slowly started gaining popularity,” says Bhattacharya.

Today, numerous restaurants in Delhi have incorporated Tex-Mex food in their menu. While Chili’s, Taco Bell, Mexitup, Twisted Tacos and Salsa Salsaa are the ones serving only Tex-Mex, others like Hard Rock Cafe, Hybrid, Raasta, Fork You, Dos Burros and Moets Arabica to name a few are serving some food items from the cuisine.

According to experts, one of the reasons behind Tex-Mex’s popularity is because of the quick service sector policy — handy, take-away and home delivery.

“We decided to keep the prices low so that more people can try it. We try to serve tacos like comfort food by inducing mild Indian flavours to suit the palate of Delhiites,” says Onil Suneja, co- owner, Twisted Tacos.

Tex-Mex food is also vegetarian-friendly, according to Bhattacharya. Ingredients like kidney beans (rajma), lentils, bell peppers and jalapenos are used in a lot of Tex-Mex dishes, thus making it a preferable and exotic option for vegetarians.

“While authentic Mexican cuisine is a very strict cuisine in itself and not many people can adapt to it, Tex-Mex cuisine is becoming popular all over the world. People are becoming more curious about different cuisines and Tex-Mex has a lot of scope in Delhi,” says Bhattacharya.  

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