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Cinco de Mayo: Looking at the Mexican and Indian connect through the lenses of food

There is more to Mexican food than just a plate of greasy, cheesy nachos that have become a popular appetiser in India. It is teeming with spices like chilli and cumin powder and ingredients such as onions, peppers, and tomatoes, similar to Indian cooking.

On Cinco de Mayo today (May 5), a Mexican festival that celebrates the anniversary of the country’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, we look at five popular dishes and their Indian counterparts.


A dough made from corn is stuffed with potatoes, peppers, cheese or meats and is then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed. Tamales are similar to two Indian snacks — alu vadi and kotte that are idlis steamed in jackfruit leaves. Alu vadis are made with a spiced besan paste applied to colocassia leaves and steamed.



Quesadillas are made by adding stuffing in between two tortillas and cheese acting as a glue. Gorditas, on the other hand, are made with thick corn dough and stuffed with meat or vegetables. Indians eat baida rotis, which are made with wheat or maida flour. These pockets are then filled with kheema, egg or cheese.



Similar to bhutta (corn) that is eaten in the monsoons, elote is Mexican corn on the cob. While Indians eat it with chilli powder, salt and lime juice, this Mexican street food is slathered with mayonnaise and seasoned with chilli powder, lime juice, salty Cotija cheese and coriander leaves.


When deep-fried in oil, tostadas have the similar crunchiness of a khakhra. They can be eaten as is or with toppings like refried beans (rajma), cheese, chicken, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. In India, toppings such as pizza/pesto sauce, cheese and garlic butter are also added to the khakhras these days.Another similar dish is masala pappad with onions, tomatoes, chili and served with sev and a squeeze of lime juice.


Originating from the Aztecs, mole is a smooth, tangy, and nutty sauce that is made with a paste of chillies, nuts and seeds. It is served with chicken, pork or turkey. In India, we make chicken curry that is prepared in a variety of ways, as each community has its own traditional way of making their curries.

Other similar dishes :

Arroz con leche – Rice Kheer

Alegrias – Rajgira Chikki

Huevos a la Mexicana – Anda Bhurji

Charros – Shankarpali