FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: Masala y Maíz

It’s no secret here at ALMA we can’t stop thinking about food. We love the whole spectrum of dining possibilities available in Mexico: market stalls, fine dining experiences, pop-up restaurants, curbside anafres and home cooking! As long as the tortillas are fresh and the salsa is tart we are in.


Our current obsession is the long communal table of Masala y Maíz. This minimalist terrazzo slab with concrete floors and walls and a secret garden in the back is all we have ever dreamed of. Remember fusion food? That empty buzzword from the early two thousands? You will never hear it here. Masala y Maiz takes a deeper plunge into researching food parallels between the Indian subcontinent and Mexican culinary history to create a brand new style of post-colonial cooking. The changing menú —and each dish really— is a manifesto of the sisterhood between cultures with similar stories, palates and traditions, while remaining totally unique.

 

Breakfast at Masala y Maíz allows for a long meal where intense conversations over coffee turn breakfast into brunch into lunch. By the time you get there the menu will have changed, their aim is to strictly respect produce seasonality and work with whatever local ingredients are fresh. We have ordered (and fallen in love with) the flaky biscuit with mole coloradito and scrambled eggs, the soupy beans with a fried egg and crispy khari puri and the Ful Medames toast made with homemade sourdough. We feel morally obligated to finish with their old fashioned donuts with crispy toasted coconut flakes, it makes for a perfect finish.


If you are lucky enough to get a spot for lunch at the very end of the table you will find yourself eating surrounded by potted hojasanta bushes, vases full of fennel flowers and a lovely streak of sun that slowly warms the terrace up. Each dish from the lunch menú is a cerebral intersection of varied food traditions from India and Mexico. Their iconic esquites come from a cheeky dissection of the East African Makai Paka —sweet corn in coconut curry. The corn is served off the cob like esquites found in the streets allover Mexico, they are cooked in a thick, sour and sweet coconut milk and spice mix and topped with lime wedges and a beautifully bougainvillea pink dalia mayonnaise. 


The Hojasanta Patra is so creative yet a logic conclussion I can’t believe we haven’t been eating it for centuries in both India and Mexico. Patra (colocasa) leaves have been substituted by the anise flavored oaxacan hojasanta, they are smeared with a mix of tamarind, chickpea and curry leaf paste, rolled like cigars and deep fried for maximum crisp. We always ask for seconds of the delicious green coconut chutney it is dressed with. Writing about these just made us pick up the phone and make a reservation for lunch tomorrow.


As these intelectually challenging, well thought out, delicious dishes parade in front of you, you will most likely be approached by owners Saqib or Norma who are full of tips on the menú, daily specials and natural wine recommendations. Besides their fun and well selected wine list they have locally produced kombuchas, hidromiel (honey mead) and delicious aguas frescas. 

We are running out of space and haven’t sung half the praise this place deserves. Go try it for yourself, book a ticket to Mexico City, stroll around the beautiful San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhood, have a big lunch, fight the über-friendly servers for their beautiful Carla Fernandez denim smocks (we’ve tried, they won’t sell them to us), eat a donut for dessert and have a nap in the Chapultepec forest (it’s next door). Tell us about your experience at Masala y Maíz on the comments below, do you know any places with a similar ethos? have you ever mixed Indian and Mexican ingredients or techniques? Let us know!


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