Mexican food has a number of ingredients Indians love, and Miss Margarita in South Delhi taps into this
I like the word salsa, and all that it denotes, from dance and music to food. That explains, to an extent, why Mexican food appeals to me. It is, after all, a glorious mix of fluid and tonal flavours.
It is also the cuisine that a talented young chef called Noah Barnes has been focusing on. I’d had some delicious Mexican food at his restaurant Arriba some years ago, and still remember the taste of the habanero-smoked pork skewers, flavoured with honey and served with a hot chilli sauce.
The chef now runs a new restaurant called Miss Margarita (Ph no 8920331591; M block market, GK 2), which specialises in Mexican food. Chef Barnes, who learnt the nuances of Mexican cooking from the former ambassador of Mexico in India, and a visiting master chef at the embassy, prepares various kinds of tortillas, quesadillas, tacos and more.
Mexican food has a spicy edge that appeals to the Indian palate. Some of the flavours — such as cilantro — are used in both cuisines. We love our tomatoes and onions; so do they. A lot of what we eat – think corn on the cob or peanuts – came to our shores from distant Mexico.
I love all their open and closed wraps. The tacos that he prepares, with different toppings are superb. His Street-styled grilled chicken and chilli bean taco (₹475) consisted of grilled chicken strips, a sweet paprika drizzle, refried beans, rocket, and smoked tomato salsa, topped with fresh tomato and onions.
The dish I really loved was the diablo prawn (₹725). With a pressed tomato and coriander drizzle, it had a tamarind and habanero glaze and came with burnt garlic and lime. The prawns were first grilled and then tossed in the sauce. The tart flavours of the tamarind went well with the sharpness of the chillies. The prawn — soft inside and crunchy outside — had soaked in the flavours.
The cheesy jalapeno chicken chipotle quesadilla (₹625) was just that — hot with a sharp taste of cheese, while the charred sweet potato and crispy cauliflower taco (₹395) was a spinach tortilla, also topped with a hot sauce. The problem with the latter was that I didn’t really get the taste of cauliflower or the sweet potato, as it had been overwhelmed by the sauce.
The pork carnitas tacos, however, were superb. Soft pork belly had been topped with a potato, pineapple and jalapeno salsa, smoked tomato salsa and refried beans (₹575). The chicken enchilada, the chef said, was a dish of chargrilled chicken, mixed with peppers and cheese, rolled in tortilla bread and topped with home-made fermented hot sauces, baked with cheese.
Chef Barnes takes pride in his “Fresh Guacamole Bar”, where guacamole is prepared at the table with avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, coriander and lime, and served with chips. There is a smoked chicken guacamole, too.
There is a lot else on the menu: blackened Cajun fish taco (₹475), gondhoraj flavoured lime shrimp fajita (₹975) and a chicken casserole consisting of crispy, skinned chicken and spiced pilaf (₹775).
I ended the meal with my favourite churros, eaten with chocolate and chilli chocolate sauce (₹425). It is a simple dish — fried dough dusted with sugar and cinnamon, but it is the sauce that gives it its singular taste. I dipped the churros in the chilli chocolate sauce and thought that was a blend worth a salsa.
The writer is a seasoned food critic