An Invitation to the Gourmet Health Freak Fiesta!
I am not a health freak. I have never been a healthy eater. I have always tended towards the gourmet experience lifestyle for every meal and snack.
I relish waking up daily to the aroma of mixed spices and feeding my dreams nightly with colorful recipes.
The Kenyan-Indian culture places a huge importance on food to demonstrate unity and affection. The quality of any gathering is measured by the quantity of food prepared and consumed. The lineage of strong women who raised me fed me with all the love they had.
As the youngest child, I was immune to scarcity. My plate servings overflowed with the finest array of home-cooked food; glorious varieties of curries wet and dry, pilaus, naan and sweets inspired by the Muslim Gujarat in India, from where my great grandparents had migrated.
Finishing every bite and accepting seconds was a sign of gratitude and manhood.
My mother was so good at spreading love that feeding the entire neighborhood and community out of good will was her primary mission and favorite hobby. When she ran her own restaurant in a now-flourishing Kenyan town and a café at the National Museum, everyone knew that Mama Zarina would not let anyone go hungry.
Things are a little different from my childhood. With two kids of my own now, I recognize the importance of nutrients for a healthy lifestyle. While I am not the best role model, I have been inspired to conjure recipes that both tantalize and nourish my family and the Albuquerque community.
To create an authentic healthy fusion at the Urban Taqueria mex restaurant which remains true to our culture, I had to demystify my own stereotypes about healthy Mexican recipes and the Islamic Indian influence blended into its cuisine.
Few people think healthy when they think of Mexican food. The image of crema, queso loaded frijoles, guac and chorizo tacos combined with Tex-Mex, pub-style nachos and cerveza leave us craving comfort food or a junk treat over a nourishing meal.
Fewer people think healthy when they think of Indian food. Our minds flash visions of red-hot spice that set our tongues and bums on fire. We have come to treat this food as either an exotic, luxury Indian restaurant dining experience or a greasy order-in option.
The truth is that authentic Mexican and authentic Indian food is tasty and good for healthy eating. Primarily plant based in origin and predominantly gluten free, they are low calories nutritious and anything but boring.
Diet in the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations comprised cactus, avocado, plantains, squash, corn, quinoa, beans, hibiscus water and of course hot chocolate. India cultivated a health wisdom culture (Ayurveda) for centuries, employing simple food like lentils for overall body functioning and spiritual healing.
The main influence Indian cuisine is Islamic Persian. It is this same influence that eventually made its way to Mexican cuisine. Well-prepared meals from either Mexican or Indian tradition are high in natural healing properties, amino acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and necessary fats.
Coming from a man who puts his belly first, these revelations blew my mind!
I understand it’s not easy to associate healthy food with mouth-watering tastiness.
That’s why, to honour the culinary practices of pre-colonial Mexican foragers as well as my ancestors from the Muslim Gujarat, we have prepared an array of healthy options merging our signature Mexican and Islamic heritage. We use local, organic ingredients personalized to your taste buds, current diet plan and lifestyle. Our low calorie snacks and meals are deliberately high in nutritional value.
My personal favorite on our healthy lifestyle menu is grilled native beef with charro beans. The cattle are grass-fed free-range by Native Americans on their lands. The steak, tender with very little fat is steeped in our famous chipotle arbol marinade, accompanied by the plump beans and a fresh chimichuri sauce.
To clarify, the origin of chimichuri is Argentina and Uruguay, not Mexico.
I also love our Echiladas. Generally enchiladas are heavy laded with cheese. Our version is delicate and 100% vegan. We stuff our home-made corn tortillas with sautéed mushrooms and a vegan mole which as of today is over 100 days old. Mole, from the South of Mexico, is a descendant of the lavishly complex curry – an intricate blend of spices, fruits and herbs. The longer Mole stays, the darker and more extravagant it tastes. We keep adding to our special mixture so it constantly evolves in richness.
I am still no health freak. I am surprised however at how quickly our lifestyle recipes convinced me that Healthy and Gourmet is the perfect match for any fiesta!
Are we the Mexican restaurant near you? Come by for your healthy diet treat.