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Punjabi-Mexican Food

This may sound like a weird combonation but - i became aware of a group of indian (panjabi) immigrants who came to the imperial valley as farmers in the early 1900's and married mexican women. It was brought to light to me in a PBS show a while back. Supposedly they created a sort of hybrid cuisine as well. Think corn tortillas and jalapeno, dal etc. Could there be a place out there serving this cuisine?


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  1. Interesting, never heard of the Punjabi-Mexican Food. Must research this. You probably know, Mexicali has a large population of Chinese, and is said to the best chinese food in North America, even beats SF and LA (Wiki). Mexicali even has a Chinatown know as La Chinesca.


    1. Actually, in Yuba City, which has an enormous Punjabi-Mexican population, there are several diners which serve "curried" turkey and "roti tortillas." Have seen these described in a few article, but I haven't been there. I plan to visit soon--will let you know what I find out.

      1. Here's a link to an old thread on Avatar's Punjabi Burrito, 2 locations in Marin County (covered on the SF Bay Area board).

        1. Thanks for the link to the Punjabi Burrito place. It was the first thing I thought of when I read the original post. Does anyone know if its still around....maybe its time for a little reconnaisance trip....

          BTW, I don't think of this as a weird combination at all. My husband is East Indian (although not Punjabi) and I lived in Mexico for awhile and like to cook/eat Mexican food. We have Indian/Mexican combinations (including the mentioned corn tortillas and dahl) all the time. And we often use whole-wheat flour tortillas as a quick and easy substitute for chapati. Also, many spices and flavorings in the two cuisines are similar: cumin, cilantro, chilis, etc. fwiw...

          1 Reply
          1. re: janetofreno

            We've moved some conversation about Avatar's Punjabi Burrito over the San Francisco board, since that's where Mill Valley and Sausalito are discussed. You can find that part of the conversation here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2. I second the Yuba City excursion as I attended the Punjabi American Heritage Festival last Memorial Day and had some really incredible food - but not Punjabi/Mexican - but, hey it was delicious.

            Does anyone know the name of a dish that starts with a base of fried, puffed potato rounds, then has fruit pieces and yams and drizzles of some wonderful spicy sauce and yogurt and crisped onions and a few other things?

            I would love to find it again in a local Indian restuarant.

            2 Replies
            1. re: glbtrtr

              Do you mean "bhel puri"? That's a mix of puffed rice, chunks of potato, , fried noodles, onions,date chutney, mint chutney. It's usually a savory dish. Or do you mean "Pani Puri," which have the puffed puris, with potatoes, boiled moong daal, onions, placed into a small opening on top, and then drizzeld with chutney and yogurt? In neither case have I heard about the fruit or sweet potatoes. Or Aloo Chaat? Which has a potato base, along with some of the above?

              1. re: desichick

                Wow, thanks for all the possibilities for this Punjabi Heritage Association event dish I had in Yuba City last Memorial Day.

                I asked what the name of the dish was and it had one, but not one I was able to remember. It seemed very popular and they did a lot of prep work ahead of time preparing all the ingredients and sauces so I gathered it was a traditional item.

                The base was round fried potato rings that puffed out, then they tossed a handful of fresh fruit chunks and maybe cooked yams, then some wonderful spicy sauce and a few other things that I now no longer remember that all melded together in a wonderful and haunting dish.

                It was a sweet, salty, spicy tasty wonder and the fruit was definitely fresh, not a chutney. The sauce was dark.

                Almost worth a trip back there to see (hopefully) if they have it again. Just went to one of our local Indian restaurants in Santa Barbara yesterday and scanned the menu to see if anything was close - no luck. Thanks for all your suggestions.

            2. I love the miX! i wish there was a spot close to Pasadena that had this cuisine, my two favorites combined!

              1. Here's a very interesting paper on "California's Punjabi Mexican Americans":


                One of its major points is that very few Indian traditions were retained, but that foods and cooking styles were among those few traditions that WERE retained.

                John and I are going up to Chico in about a month. I think that we'll visit Yuba City for some culinary research re Punjabi Mexican food. If we find anything of interest, I'll report back here.

                1 Reply
                1. There is no longer a place in Yuba City that I am aware of that is still serving the Punjabi-Mexican Food as a combo. And yes, the combo is great. My father, born and raised in Imperial Valley, CA is of the mixed culture, his father being from India and his mother from Mexico. Our family, starting with my grandparent's and family, then taken over by my father and joined in with my mother, brother and I, owed a restaurant in Yuba City called Rasul's El Ranchero. There for over 30 years we served mexican food, along with curried chicken, lamb and roti (the East Indian equivelant of a tortilla). We were most famous for our Mex-Indian combo, the Roti Quesadilla, (the roti being Indian and the quesadilla of course being Mexican) which was most often served with a side of curry sauce for dipping. Just typing this makes my mouth water. Just to round out the flavor I would add a side of refried beans to my plate. If you are unable to find a place that serves both or make your own, just for a sample of what it taste like, you can do what I did when I was pregnant and had craving at lunch while working full-time. I would go down to a shopping center that fortunately had both a Mexican and India restaurant. I would order a roti or paratha and curry sauce from the India restaurant and then refried beans with cheese (sometimes chili verde) from the Mexican restaurant and make my own Mexi-Indian meal. It got me through some homesick cravings.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Tamara English

                    Tamara, do you know if there are any Indian groceries in YC? if so, would love to stop there on our way north to Chico...

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      Yuba City is home to one of the largest Punjab population in this part of the state. Farming is a great Punjabi tradition and they have really re-invigorated this part of California. Have to think there would be plenty of Indian groceries there -- always my favorite place for the Memorial Day Punjabi-American Festival for great food too. Let us know what you find.

                      1. re: glbtrtr

                        I was up in Yuba City last year for a friend's wedding and while I didn't see any Mex-Indian places I can confirm that the Indian is quite good.

                        1. re: oerdin

                          Where did you eat? Im heading to Twain and passing thru Yuba City on Friday for lunch...

                    2. re: Tamara English

                      Wow, amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing this unique culinary history as you experienced first hand!