THEPLA TACOS, ANYONE?
From Chinese to Italian — every cuisine that has entered the Indian culinary market, has been given a desi fusion twist. The latest in line is tacos. Tacos made an entrance few years ago when the popular Taco Bell, an American fast food chain, opened in Bengaluru in 2011 and 2015 in Delhi. However, it’s only now that tacos have been given the desi treatment, with fusion tacos becoming a favourite with the foodies. We got in touch with Delhi chefs who explain how fusion tacos came to be and why they’re so popular.
WHAT ARE FUSION TACOS?
Mexican in origin, tacos are rolled or folded tortillas filled with ingredients such as beans and chicken. Fusion tacos are made by using elements of different cuisines. Here are a few examples — Thepla tacos made with beetroot bhaji, Boti tikka tacos – containing tandoori chicken marinated with various flavours, smoked chicken taco served with citrus salsa, laal maas phulkas and cone tacocontaining butter paneer.
Chefs say that the popularity of fusion tacos is not because of the similarities between Indian and Mexican cuisine, but because they are just Instagram-worthy food (dishes created and presented with a purpose to increase their social media appeal and their marketability). “Fusion tacos have become popular because of Instagram, and I am not impressed by it. These days chefs are experimenting just for the sake of it,” says Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, adding, “One needs to think before attempting fusion. I can just wrap a few ingredients in a roti and call it a taco as well. I also think because of fusion, a dish loses its authenticity. There is also a question mark on the restaurant providing these fusion tacos. We don’t know if they are using fresh ingredients or just mishmashing frozen tacos and calling it fusion.”
However, fusion when done right can bring the best of two cuisines together. “The essence of fusion only comes when you recreate the taco by using ingredients that are native to India and are fresh. If you are going to use frozen ingredients or import stuff, then it doesn’t make sense. This time tacos seems to the flavour of the season. Fusion tacos like bajra taco with lamb gosht, waffle taco and quinoa taco are in demand,” says Chef Nishant Choubey.
It looks as if foodies these days are in search for a new culinary experience. They want a dish that’s not just new, but Instagram-perfect. This demand has pressurised chefs to experiment with various cuisines and tacos are no exception to this.
“We were the first ones to come up with fusion tacos. In 2011-12, we created pulled kathal phulka taco with roasted almonds,” says Chef Manish Mehrotra. “The new-found popularity of fusion tacos can be explained by the fact that now foodies are always demanding new dishes to taste, they get bored of eating the same old thing. However, I also believe that fusion of any dish should make sense, there has to be thought behind it. For example, tacos like ‘malabari Paratha in taco’ doesn’t make sense.” ■
Pepper chilli chicken, Ajwaini Tawa Parantha Tacos by Chef Harangad Singh of Prankster Gurugram Fusion tacos are made from channa Punjabi, non veg preparation has achari murgh and same sauces Another fusion taco creation made from shredded jackfruit dusted with cornflour
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Japanese Soy Chilli Prawn These cone tacos are perfect as pint sized party snacks Jamaican Jerk Spiced Pork Laal Maas Phulkas tacos