Mombasa to Albuquerque: A journey across Seas with the Tikka

Mouthwatering flavours of tikka from my childhood still haunt my palette.

Evening family barbeques under a humid and salty night sky with the sound of the Indian Ocean lapping against the white, sandy beaches in the distant background.

The evening call to prayers silences the bustling streets and fruit markets, in a holy reminder of submission followed by the delightful laughter of children playing cricket as the aroma of a Ramadhan Ifthar or a concoction of spices, coffee and sweets fill the air.

Mombasa. My paradise on Earth. The city of my boyhood. A place of lofty hopes and dreams to sail the island on an Arab Dhow and conquer one of the grand beach hotels. The waters in which my siblings and I learned to swim competitively when my mum threw us from a boat into the harbor and shouted, “swim!”

The city of Sunday afternoon drives to the Light House for coconut water and cassava chips, endless mishkaki, kebobs and masala fries drizzled with raita and tamarind chutney. The city of countless milkshakes, faluda and kulfi. Ahhhh.

My brother’s tikka is my favorite to date. Taking full command of the charcoal pit most evenings he blended succulent marinades of yogurt, ginger, garlic, black pepper, turmeric and mixed spices with fresh chilies into a magical masala to coat tenderized meats and vegetables for grill with butter dripping naan.

Tikka in Mombasa reflects the long history of conquest and occupation along the east coast of Africa by the mighty seafaring nations of the time – the Portuguese, the Arabs and the British. Arabic and Indian influence, the latter from immigrants and traders who arrived on the coast bear the strongest influence on Swahili food.

The sailors carried tikka, meaning “little pieces” or “small chunks” of marinated meats with them on their journeys and as they settled along the Kenyan coast so did their most practical cuisine.

The mix of Persian, Indian, and Swahili tikka savours made it into my own kitchen in Albuquerque and more than forty years on, my children, their cousins and friends relish in hearty get-togethers around a flaming tikka barbeque. Different time. Different place. Same pleasure.

It is this distinct, unforgettable, perpetuating joy and deep connection we experience in these gatherings that inspired the introduction of Tikka Hut to complement the Urban Cocina ghost kitchen concept.

All my thoughts of innovation and transformation during these continued uncertain times for the food and beverage industry keep leading me to my one true passion, talent and relentless dream – food, the Islamic Mexican way.

The Tikka Taco and Chicken Tikka Burger are sensationally creative treats in authentic fusion, accompanies by either sweet or savoury lassi to drink. Cumin, common to both cuisines, is the perfect fusion spice to enhance the flavor of our salsa-chutneys. Our tikka varieties always take care of our vegetarians, vegans and healthy eaters too.

Delectable also are the Kulfi inclined gelatos in six refreshing tastes including Dulce de Leche, Mexican Vanilla and tropical staples Mango and Pineapple.

The memory of my birthplace brought forth the idea to honour her enchantment and serve her delicacies. The Mombasa tikka has traveled with me in mind and spirit across seas and is now available in my hometown, Albuquerque.

Journey into the Swahili – Latino fusion with Tikka Hut!

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