We live in the times of chicken tikka pizza and curry noodles, Parle-G cheesecake and Baileys gulab jamun, khichdi arancini and masala risotto. The most ‘foreign’ flavours, right from cheese and mayonnaise, ketchup and soy sauce, and especially chocolate have permeated our culinary DNA so deep, cheese pav bhaji and chocolate burfi are now mainstream menu items. Fusion food has been around for several centuries, and the simplest everyday example is that of the samosa. The samosa was introduced to India in the 13th or 14th century from the Middle East, where the origins of the name also lie, in the word “sambosa”. The filling, originally made with meat, took on new form with spices and then vegetables, now commonly potatoes and peas.
Call it fusion or regional influence, but the world has been bestowed with game-changing gastronomy heroes thanks to the confluence of diverse cooking traditions and introduction of new ingredients that the movement and migration of people across regions have brought about. It’s what gave us the bánh mi, katsu karē, Tangra Chinese, Tex-mex cuisine. An introduction to the different foods of the world also encourages us to look at our own in various contexts. From street food carts peddling sev puri sandwiches to fine dining establishments serving lobster makhani, we are more open to experimenting with dishes than ever. Thai golgappas and masala chai kulfis are here to stay, and it can only get better.
Even more reason for you to experiment with little-known but unbelievably delicious seafood recipes that are the result of two or more diverse cuisines and cooking techniques. Here are 10 of them, that are going to make you fly, whether you have your cape on or not. Swap that with a cooking apron maybe?
1. South Indian Fish Sandwich: This carb-less stunner is the handiwork of a Michelin-star Indian-origin chef, no less. (Keto dieters, this is the answer to your starchless prayers.) Fillets of plaice are marinated in spices and tangy tamarind, and stuffed with a fragrant crabmeat masala, and this is finished in the oven. Served with cherry tomatoes tossed with a balsamic-turmeric vinaigrette, this is a go-to choice for a fancy-schmancy dinner, that is easily put together even on a weeknight. No plaice? No problem, substitute halibutor even tilapiafillets.
2. Poha Prawn Biryani: Sanjeev Kapoor has been cooking before food shows became a hit on TV, so has impeccable bona fide fusion credentials to his name. His prawn tempura in pita pockets may sound quick-meal worthy, but it’s this everyday-breakfast-meets-festive-dish that really gets your attention. Poha Prawn biryani includes all the eponymous ingredients it so proudly proclaims, and even begins the way a dish of poha does. What comes later is the stuff that’ll amaze your dining guests, even if it’s at the breakfast table.
3. Asian-Spiced Fish Tacos with Asian Slaw and Sriracha Mayo: Tacos already make for such great crowdpullers, it doesn’t take much to dress them up some more. Throw in an Asian twist, and you’re looking at cleaned out plates and smiling happy faces around. Crunchy panko-coated bites of tilapia in a tortilla get the Oriental treatment with an Asian-style slaw and some seriously addictive Sriracha-spiked mayo. It couldn’t get any better, but may be serving a cold beer along will make it just perfect.
4. Curry Flavored Pan-fried Spanish Mackerel (Sawara no karee munieru): Curry came to Japan from India, indirectly though via the British, so it’s considered a Western import. Origins aside, curry is much loved in the country even though it’s put together in a way that’s more French than South Asian; a curry powder and flour roux is added to simmering meat and vegetable stews for the Japanese version of curry. This dish is the crispy soft version of the spiced stew; curry powder-dusted mackerel is fried golden and steamed with a cube of butter and white wine. Like we said, it’s more French than Indian.
5. Indian-spiced Fish Cakes: Considering how popular Thai fish cakes are, and how excellently they’ll adapt to any cuisine that loves its spices, these Indian-style ones are a no-brainer. Bengalis may recognize in them Macher Chop, while the other regions may call them tikkis thanks to the potato quotient, but serve them with mango chutney, or “raita” made with yoghurt and mint jelly, and they are as pukka as they come. A good idea to use leftover salmon, these can also be made with mackerel.
6. Grilled Fish Kebobs with Parsley and Garlic Butter: Kebobs, kabobs or kebabs—call them what you will—come in various forms, but globally, especially in the West, denote grilled meat or veggies on sticks, a.k.a the Indian tikka. In this Giada De Laurentiis recipe which is a fish feast, cubes of salmon, halibut and tuna are marinated in a lemony garlic and parsley oil and skewered to be grilled. The fish is brushed with butter with more parsley and garlic, true to the name. A simple but tasty lunch on a hot day or dinner on a warm evening.
7. Japanese Salmon Burgers: Wasabi, nori, panko, Kewpie mayo—what may sound like someone reading out labels from the Japanese food section at the supermarket is actually the ingredient list for this Jap take on the now universal favourite burger. The salmon patty, which starts as a fish cake of sorts, gets panko-crumbed, to be laid on squirts of cult fav Kewpie mayo and shredded veggie slaw with an Asian dressing. Feel free to replace the regular burger buns with sushi rice burgers from this recipeto take the Japanese theme all the way.
8. Asian-spiced Kedgeree: “Kedgeree started life, in India, as a dish of lentils and rice and then, translated into the kitchens of what could be called the Anglo-Indian Ascendancy, became an eggy, golden pile of rice punctuated with slabby chunks of smoked haddock.” says Nigella Lawson in the introduction to her recipe, which, with its Asian twist, returns the kedgeree closer to its place of origin, the Indian subcontinent. Khichdi got corrupted to kedgeree, and mutated into its British breakfast avatar, almost unrecognizable cloaked in smoked fish and eggs. Nigella adds kaffir lime/makrut leaves and fish sauce to give it an Asian perspective, and replaces the haddock with salmon. Great on the breakfast table as well as for a light lunch.
9. Mexican Shrimp and Grits: The celeb Southern staple, with a massive following thanks to the jumbo shrimp, andouille sausage, and in some versions, bacon it calls for, gets a Mexican twist. Similar to the Cajun version, this one employs garlic and red pepper, and Mexican seasoning. Add to it the convenience of a one-pot dish, and you’re looking at comfort food that can save the world. The avocado and cheese add much-needed creaminess, and the olive oil can be replaced by butter for a heartier version. Choose large or jumbo prawnsfor this dish.
10. Miso Maple-Glazed Salmon: Japanese savoury hero meets Canadian syrupy beauty and together they produce a lovechild that announces itself as Miso Maple-Glazed Salmon to the world. The two ‘M’s are distinct ingredients from their countries of origin; miso is a salty soy paste from Japan, while Canada produces some of the world’s best maple syrup from its multitude of trees. In a marriage solemnized by acrid rice vinegar and hot sauce, these two come together as one in a glaze that goes on top of salmon that is first pan-fried and then broiled till the top caramelizes a little. Serve with asparagus spears and a lemon wedge.