Mexican and Indian flavours wrapped together

mex it up

Would you try a paneer burrito? How about prawn-and-pani puri tacos? These combinations might sound unusual, but the taste is anything but. Chef Kavya Verghese's new venture in Chennai, Mex it Up, dishes up and delivers a cuisine that very few conventional restaurants handle. The Indian-Mexican combination that comes out of Kavya's home kitchen is both delightful and creative.

Launched during the lockdown, Mex It Up's burritos and taquitos have garnered a loyal following in Chennai. And, just one burrito can make you full. "I have been getting online orders continuously and it keeps me busy throughout the day," says Kavya.

Born and raised in Chennai, Kavya travelled the world as a culinary chef. A few weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown began, she quit her job at the Dubai Hilton Jumeriah. She specialises in Mexican, Thai and French cuisines, but she says that most Indians are not adventurous when it comes to trying new dishes. And Chennaiites are no exception to this. "I felt people might not like authentic Mexican or French or Thai cuisine as they are," she says. "So, I mixed some favourite Indian flavours with Mexican."

In addition to the paneer burrito, the Chettinad mutton burrito is another must-try. It is packed with rice, mutton, beans, jalapenos, pickled onions, cilantro and mozzarella, all wrapped in a nutritious multigrain tortilla. The chicken 65 burrito and the chilli garlic potato burrito, too, are spiced with Indian flavours.

chef kavya
Mexican meets Indian in chef Kavya’s kitchen

Apart from burritos, Kavya's menu includes an Indian take on tacos. A small bite-sized puri is stuffed with a Mexican filling; the traditional tamarind water is also given a Mexican twist. The result is a pani puri that explodes in your mouth in a flood of new flavours. The prawn taquitos, filled with sautéed buttered prawns, refried beans, salsa, sour cream and corn in a puri, is crunchy and juicy. The mushroom and tofu taquitos are even more delicious. The two taquitos go with jalapeno-and-cheese samosas and soya lettuce wraps. The samosas are crispy and served with tangy salsa, while the wrap is lettuce filled with minced soya, crunchy vegetables and vegan sour cream.

You can wash it all down with a drink, too—either ice tea with your choice of Mexican fries or a watermelon basil paloma or even a cold coffee horchata. Not to mention desserts like the crispy churros or almond brownies to end your meal on a high. With the glut of orders coming in, Kavya is a happy chef these days. And she promises that Mex It Up will move out of her home kitchen once the pandemic blows over.

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