Whether it’s an ingredient that traveled to a new land, or an old-world recipe reinvented with local ingredients, food has been evolving for as long as humans have roamed the Earth. It’s been a way for newcomers to assimilate and to cross cultural gaps. It’s also how some of the most delicious dishes were born. Whether you’re talking about Kimchi, Ramen, or Macaroni and Cheese, many of today’s hottest foods were born from a migration of people and ingredients around the world.
Our guest blogger this week, Vijay Nathan is the Editor and “Chief Nosher” at NoshOn.It, a daily email featuring a hand-picked recipe and expert cooking tips to inspire you to get in your kitchen and cook. Drawing inspiration from his background and childhood, he’s created a mouthwatering lamb taco that melds the Tex-Mex of his youth with the flavors of his South Asian roots. Read on for Vijay’s Tacos and sign up for NoshOn.It’s newletter for a daily dose of culinary inspiration.
Hello No Recipes readers! In many ways, writing this guest post is a bit surreal for me. When I started reading food blogs years ago, No Recipes was one of the first sites that I stumbled upon and, 5 years later, I find myself coming back day after day so this is a true honor. Marc and I share a passion for exploring boldly flavored foods from cultures around the world. We also share a mutual appreciation for digging deep into the roots of traditional ethnic recipes and treating them with respect – staying true to authentic ingredients and techniques whenever possible and simply elevating a recipe to perfection.
Which is why today I’m rebelling in full force and unapologetically sharing a recipe mash-up that’s only partially authentic. We all have to break out of the box at some point, right? I present to you: Lamb Vindaloo Tacos with Cucumber Raita. Trust me, it works.
Growing up in a South Asian household in Houston, Texas, I was heavily influenced by both Indian and Tex-Mex food, which to this day are what I crave the most. They might seem different at first glance, but even at thousands of miles apart, the cuisines and ingredients of these cultures share curious similarities – cumin, coriander, dried chiles, onions, and garlic. Flatbreads to wrap around and dip into slowly simmered gravies. Rich deep flavors contrasted with something bright and sharp. When thinking about what recipe I wanted to share with you, I knew I wanted it to be a blend of these two cultures that mean so much to me. And so, Indian tacos were born.
The core of this recipe was inspired by one of my favorite Indian restaurant dishes – Vindaloo. A Goan curry typically made with pork, vindaloo consists of meat marinated overnight in a fiery blend of spices, sugar, and vinegar, giving it a uniquely sweet-sour-spicy flavor. Instead of using pork, I used lamb (which is often seen in restaurants) because I think the dark, lightly gamey meat is a better contrast to the rest of the ingredients. Also, I admittedly tested this recipe several times and ultimately settled on lamb shanks as the cut of choice because it’s so forgiving and shreds easily.
The lamb is marinated for several hours in a loose spice paste that includes dried Mexican chilies, vinegar, coconut milk (for sweetness), and a host of spices. You simply brown the lamb and simmer it in the reserved marinade until it falls apart. While vindaloo would typically be served with rice or an Indian flatbread, I Tex-Mex-ified it by putting it in a taco. To accompany the rich filling, I like to serve thinly sliced onions that have been soaked in lemon juice for a tangy bite and a cooling cucumber raita. It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but the technique is actually quite simple. And traditional…sort of.
The result is a dish with layers of flavors that seem to go on forever. The vinegar in the marinade lends a unique acidity to the braised meat that’s laced with warm and savory spices. The “pickled” onions cuts through the fat of the lamb and the raita serves as a fire extinguisher to your palate. These turned out pretty darn well, if I should say so myself. I hope you’ll give them a shot and let me know what you think. And, be sure to come on over to NoshOn.It and say hello. Thanks again to Marc for having me!
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