HORN-OK-PLEASE: Taco Pakora has arrived 

Growing up, my mother always scoffed at me when I played with my food. I would segregate the food into zones; “like” & “dislike” and made mountains of rice around the plate. They even had structured roadways in between. Quite elaborate -might I add. The objective, was to push all the “disliked” items away to the sides thus pretending to show a clean plate before I was excused from the table. In actuality- it never worked!

Then a dog arrived- Snuggy who snuggly fit below the dining table at meal time. To me he was godsent thank to his vacuuming abilities of moping up ‘mistakenly’ fallen food off the floor. Welcome the Dog-bin (yes I invented that word….does anyone know how to trademark it?)

I was thrilled to receive a call from the dynamic duo (No,NOT Batman and Robin- champagne with Wayne will follow shortly someday, *wishful thinking*) who run a posh swanky restaurant- A Reverie in the northern belt of Goa. Known for their creativity and love for all things unique I decided to accept the invite with gusto having been told the dining concept was a playdate with ones food. Payback to the folk after all these years.

The objective clear; a blend of world cuisine on a plate (7 course meal to be precise over a multitude of dishes) delicately infused with local Indian flavor and panache. A creative marriage in the making perhaps?

Case in point the affair of the Indian pakora & the taco all the way from Mexico. Sounds absurd, you say? Quite the contrary.

If any of you have had the experience of driving behind trucks on the highways of India they have a phrase commonly plastered on the rear HORN-OK-PLEASE. The purpose of the phrase is to alert the driver of the vehicle approaching from behind to sound their horn in case they wished to overtake. The history of this phrase unknown; however there are multiple theories. In the early days all the good carrier trucks were manufactured by the TATA Group which had a brand of detergent- ‘OK’ which they cleverly advertised on the rear of their trucks by painting them. It had a symbol of the lotus. Quite effective free publicity might I add. Another theory states that the blackout on lights during the Second World War, if a car had to overtake a lorry at night, it had to honk. For this purpose, there used to be a red light under the truck which the driver would switch on to signal it was OK to overtake. It was the OK in the middle that would light up.

So what business does a Taco have with a Indian pakora? After all a taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a tortilla folded/wrapped around a filling primarily beef,pork,chicken,seafood, vegetables and cheese to name a few allowing for great versitality and variety. Much similar to the Indian naan, might I add which is a common staple diet bread used by many households. Whilst the bhaji or pakora- a fried fritter snack often comprising of onions,eggplant, potato, spinach being the usual suspects dipped in batter of gram flour and then deep fried generally used as a accompaniment with a nice hot cup of tea- I really couldn’t place the unison.

While quizzical at the moment – is also interesting to note the presentation of the dish sans any utensils. The taco back home in Mexico follows the similar custom and is accompanied by multiple garnishes; salsa,avocado,guacamole, cilantro, minced meats, onions and lettuce (now you understand the versitality of it all?) Trivia: it is one of the most popular street foods in Mexico and is never eaten as a main meal; they are generally eaten before midday or late in the evening.The origin of this word is in dispute with some saying its derived from the Nahuatl while others from various Spanish phrases. 

All said and done it brought out the kid in me. I played with that truck like there was no tomorrow not to mention the crunchy bites of the beer battered kandha bhajiya (onion pakoras) interspersed as a gentle afterthought.

Snuggy this is one meal i wouldn’t send your way. No offense pup. Look at me now Mum- I’m still playing with my food.

SHOUT -OK -PLEASE.    Pic courtesy: A Reverie 

Margaritas for U -two? 

I’m philosophical and currently donning my Sherlock Holmes hat. (Yes I have one of those.) So here’s a tale for you. A commonly accepted origin story of the birth of Margarita (not from Aldona- I refer to the drink here) is its invention in 1941, at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, by a bartender Don Carlos Orozco. It all started one dusty tumbleweed afternoon, Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the then German ambassador visited the cantina and Don Carlos who had been experimenting with drinks offered her one. (Smooth operator indeed.)

The cocktail consisted of equal parts of tequila, Mexican orange liqueur called Controy (aka Naranja in the USofA), and lime, shaken and served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. As she was the first to try the drink, Don Carlos decided to name it after her and the “Margarita” was born. 

Over the years this cocktail has morphed since inception and construct, consisting of tequila, triple sec (such as Cointreau) and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt on the rim of the glass. There are multiple ways of having it -served shaken with ice (on the rocks), blended with ice (frozen margarita), or without ice (straight up). (Ice ice baby)

 The gentle and highly sprited folk at Fishermans Wharf (Margarita Lounge) thought of adding their own blend to this classic on a hot day in Goa sans the tumbleweed. Deciding to play scientist and infuse a melon and pomegranate twist of heady delight this was one offering for the books. The fresh tinge of sweet melon aching to be tasted over the dominant twist of lime makes for a oral sensational delight just the bitter sweet way lovers fight. The kiss and make up tale could evidently follow by the aftertaste of the pomegranate blend which accompanies the poppers ordered as sides. 

Mind your palate for the extremity of a potential brain freeze with the margarita not to mention the pit hell molten cheese oozing out of poppers that could burn your lips. It’s hard but do give it a try. 

And if your in the mood to play some drinking games try this with a companion. It’s efficiently classified and detrimental to your sanity and state of mind. I learnt it the hard way in Mexico. Must be done in chorus between buddies.

Arriba, Abajo, al centro y pa’dentro” 

Simply translated as “put your glass up, glass down, glass in the middle, chug” 

Salud to your health Amigos. 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography