This is the first of a series of dishes called Indian Tapas that I will share on this blog. It is my attempt to get a little more adventurous with canape and appetiser ideas using Indian flavours, expanding on the classic chicken tikka, samosa and bhaji option that one usually finds in restaurants.
Eventually, I hope to build a collection of Indian and Indian-inspired short-eats. The sort of thing you serve when you have friends over for drinks or just as an appetiser at a dinner party. The sort of thing that can line the stomach nicely for a glass of wine, or with a few different dishes, can build up to be a full meal.
For the first of the Indian Tapas series, I decided to create little grab-and-munch mini soft tacos using Indian flavours. What I love most about this dish is that it combines my all-time favourite Indian cuisine with one of my other loves, Mexican food.
My experience of Mexico spans but a few hours. It was when I was almost thirteen, on a trip with my parents that we took a bus tour from California across the border to Tijuana. As far as cities go, it reminded me of almost anywhere in India; over-populated, polluted and full of smiling faces and intriguing smells.
I remember being told to be careful with photography as Mexican policemen did not like being snapped by tourists. There was the warning to be even more careful with our valuables if we wanted to keep then.
I vividly remember the underground market where hawkers tried to sell us things. Ponchos, blankets, trinkets and so on. There was the sleazy old stall-keeper who offered to buy me from my parents, an offer which was politely declined. There was the colourful watch my parents bought me, the face of which was half sun, half moon. There were two soft leather bags that we took home and used for years, encouraged by our guide’s advice that Tijuana was known for its leather goods.
Strangely, I have no memory of the food we ate there, surprising as food normally plays a strong part in my recollections of a place. My best experiences of Mexican food were during my visits to Texas, which is close enough to the border to have developed their own version of the cuisine and to dub it Tex-Mex.
These appetiser sized tacos are the perfect little four or five bite morsels to be served with drinks and eaten with fingers. I couldn’t resist using Indian flavours. The fish tikka is one I’ve been making for a while now, and when it occurred to me to incorporate it into mini-tacos to create my first Indian Tapas recipe, I was unnaturally excited.
You can make the different components ahead of time and just bring it all together to serve. Vegetarians, this would also work well with paneer or firm tofu.
Fish Tikka Tacos
Makes 6-8 mini tacos
300g swordfish or other white fish (fillet or steak)
Cooking oil- olive, canola, sunflower or vegetable should all work well
For the marinade:
2/3 cup greek-style yoghurt
2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
1-2 hot chillies (optional)
3 tbsp tikka masala
1/2 tsp salt
For the yoghurt sauce:
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tbsp fresh Dill
1 garlic clove, peeled
Approx 1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 Red onion sliced thinly
A few fronds of fresh dill
Mini tortillas or normal sized tortillas quartered
Fresh lime wedges
Blitz the marinade ingredients in the food processor until a smooth mixture is formed. In a large bowl, place the fish and cover with the marinade. Use your (clean) fingers to make sure the fish is well coated. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
In the meantime, rinse out the food processor bowl and blitz the yoghurt sauce ingredients until the garlic is well incorporated. Also, prepare the other ingredients ready for serving.
In a hot pan, preferably a griddle pan, drizzle a cooking oil of your choice. Once the oil is hot, fry the fish until it is cooked through with nice char marks on either side. When the cold marinade hits the hot oil, there will be a hot little spitty tantrum so do keep a lid ready to contain it.
Once it is slightly cooled, slice the fish up into bite sized pieces.
To serve, Lay out the tacos. Along the midline of each taco, place a few spinach leaves, then some fish. Top with yoghurt sauce, red onions (don’t be shy!) and a few fronds of dill,then a squeeze of lime. Serve with something alcoholic (preferably).