Mexican and Indian cuisines may seem worlds apart, but a closer look reveals some fascinating parallels. From beloved staples to signature spices, these two flavorful cuisines have more in common than you might expect. Join us on a journey through these culinary connections and discover what unites the tastes of Mexico and India.
Tortillas and Rotis: Versatile Flatbreads
A shared love of flatbreads unites Mexican and Indian food. In Mexico, tortillas reign supreme. These thin unleavened rounds, made from corn or wheat flour, serve as an edible utensil for scooping up mouthfuling fillings. Meanwhile, roti is the flatbread of choice across India. Typically made with whole wheat flour, roti is rolled into thin rounds and cooked on a hot griddle.
Both tortillas and rotis are:
- Versatile – used to wrap, scoop, or complement dishes
- Unleavened – made without yeast or baking powder
- Griddle cooked – finished on a hot comal or tawa
- Nutritious – providing carbohydrates and fiber
So whether you’re reaching for a tortilla to make a taco or tearing off a piece of roti to sop up a rich curry, these simple flatbreads are foundational to Mexican and Indian cuisine.
The Central Role of Rice
Rice holds a place of honor in both Mexican and Indian food. Long-grain white rice is transformed into flavorful one-pot meals and side dishes.
Popular rice creations include:
- Mexico – Spanish rice, made zesty with tomatoes and spices
- India – Biryani, a celebratory rice dish layered with meat and/or vegetables
- Both – Pilaf/pulao, rice simmered in seasoned broth
Rice soaks up surrounding flavors while providing plenty of starchy satisfaction. A scoop of Mexican rice brightens up tacos and burritos, while Indian rice pilaf is the perfect vehicle for rich curries and stews. No matter how it’s seasoned or served, rice is indispensable in Mexican and Indian cooking.
Kindred Love of Legumes
Beans and lentils are protein powerhouses revered in both cuisines.
In Mexican food:
- Pinto, black beans and chickpeas are simmered into stews or mashed into dips
- Refried beans made from pinto or black beans frequently accompany burritos and nachos
In Indian food:
- Lentils like masoor dal are pureed into soupy curries
- Chickpeas are spiced and roasted to make chatpata chana
- Whole beans such as chole feature in hearty curries
Beans and lentils provide plant-based protein as well as dietary fiber. Their versatility allows them to be used in appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts in both cuisines. Legumes unite Mexico and India through nutrition and flavor.
Similar Use of Fresh Herbs
Herbs bring vibrancy and freshness to Mexican and Indian food. Cilantro and mint are especially beloved.
- Cilantro – Also called coriander, it adds a citrusy flavor. Used in salsas, curries, chutneys, etc.
- Mint – Adds cooling minty notes. Pairs well with meat and lentils. Essential in many chutneys.
Chopped fresh herbs get folded into Mexican salsas, guacamoles, and stews. In India, they’re whirred into refreshing chutneys and sprinkled over finished dishes. The judicious use of herbs helps balance and brighten complex flavors. Their popularity in both cuisines points to a shared appreciation of herbal liveliness.
Chili Peppers Pack a Punch
No discussion of Mexican and Indian food is complete without mentioning chili peppers. Both cuisines revel in the use of spicy chilies.
- Jalapeños, serranos, habaneros in Mexican food
- Green chilies, red chilies in Indian food
Chilies are used fresh, dried, or ground into powder to add:
- Smoky flavors
- Vibrant color
From the mild warmth of chile ancho to the intense fire of ghost pepper, chili peppers make their presence felt. Bites with even subtle heat warm you from the inside out. A love of chilies makes Mexican and Indian food shine.
Savory and Satisfying Meat Dishes
Meat is enjoyed in myriad ways in both cuisines. Chicken, lamb, and goat feature prominently on menus.
- Mexico – Tacos al pastor (spiced pork), Carne asada (grilled beef)
- India – Tandoori chicken (yogurt-marinated chicken), Rogan josh (rich lamb curry)
- Mexico – Grilling, smoking
- India – Tandoor ovens, braising, stewing
Robust seasonings and slow cooking tenderize meats. Whether it’s tucked in a taco or served with naan, meat is central to Mexican and Indian dining.
Creative Use of Dairy
Mexican and Indian cuisines harness the richness of dairy products for flavor and texture.
- Mexico – Queso fresco, crema
- India – Paneer, ghee, yogurt
Ways They’re Enjoyed:
- Sprinkled on finished dishes
- Incorporated into sauces and curries
- Served alongside breads
A crumbling of salty queso fresco enhances a burrito as much as paneer brightens up a curry. Dairy adds lusciousness, and a touch of indulgence, to both cuisines.
Savory Snack Time
When hunger strikes between meals, Mexico and India have you covered. Both cultures boast a stellar lineup of savory snacks.
Popular bites include:
- Mexico – Quesadillas, tostadas, sopes
- India – Samosas, pakoras, vadas
Common preparation techniques:
These appetizing snacks pack big flavor in each bite. Contrasting textures from crispy shells and soft fillings make them irresistible. With options from mild to spicy, small plates in Mexico and India deliver big satisfaction.
Mexican and Indian cuisines may have been shaped by different cultures, but their shared love of particular ingredients and flavor profiles binds them together. Uniting factors like flatbreads, rice, beans, herbs, chilies, and meat bring these two cuisines into culinary harmony. While regional variations exist, Mexico and India can both lay claim to deliciously spiced comfort foods that nourish body and soul. With its tapestry of tacos, curries, snacks and more, this pairing proves tastily profound.