A Classic Margarita Recipe to Pair with Earthy Indian Flavors.
By Ushi Patel
My sister-from-another-mister, Carrie, is married to my good friend Steve (she came first), a Baseball-Playing-Mexican-American-Sweetheart-Of-A-Guy hailing from Los Angeles who can throw down in the kitchen. The three of us often joke that our fridges are always filled with the same foundational ingredients (except of course for that one lone piece of ginger in mine).
Spend some time in the kitchen of any Indian or Mexican and you’ll find garlic, cumin, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, limes, lemons and some sort of array of fresh and powdered chili. While our chilies aren’t exactly the same, we both love to turn up the heat in our food.
Carrie and Steve generously feed my need for home-cooked Mexican food and chilies on a regular basis. It’s become a tradition that John now also savors. Occasionally (and I do mean occasionally because I am very selfish about my Mexican food needs), I make some Indian for them. While cooking, about 5 minutes into the chopping and prep I turn to my right and there is a beautifully poured, salted rim classic margarita and chip overloaded with habanero salsa. Bliss.
The Classic Margarita Recipe for an Indian Feast
We know that margaritas are synonymous with good times and Mexican food, but they also bring out the diversity of flavors of Indian food. There is certainly a movement towards crafting cocktails with Indian spices, which I respect, but more often take the stance of a purist when it comes to the margarita.
The lightly sweet, tart, and salty liquid brings forth the more earthy cumin and coriander without suppressing Indian flavors like other cocktails can. If you’ve got non-drinkers in the bunch, a margarita sans tequila does the same.
A not-so-side note to my Mexican friends, I know there is much debate about whether the Margarita is truly Mexican or not, well explained in this article The Margarita Was Invented By Accident, It Turns Out by James Cave. I get it, “Curry Powder!” He’s also got some recipes there for truly authentic Mexican Drinks.
My point here is, consider serving this classic margarita the next time you cook Indian food. Simple ingredients. Easy prep. Happy taste buds!
I’ve also included a few tasty variations at the end of the recipe that refreshingly bring forth the flavors in Indian food and add even more color to your spread.
2 ounces tequila (Reposado for mellow, Silver for smooth, Añejo for woody)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup or ¾ ounce light agave nectar
¾ ounce cold water
1 slice lime wedge
3 tablespoons Himalayan or kosher salt, optional
Notice there is no Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau in this recipe! In my humble opinion, this overpowers the Indian flavors and all of us South Asians could use less sugar in our diets. I recommend keeping it clean and simple. See alternative variations below.
Shake the tequila, lime juice, agave nectar, and water vigorously for 30 seconds with ice and strain into a chilled glass (rocks) filled with ice. Garnish with the wheel of lime.
Optional: Before filling the glass with ice, take a wedge of lime, and rub it around the outside of the glass to coat with juice, then dip it in a dish of Himalayan or kosher salt.
Blood-Orange: (pictured above)
Add 3 ounces fresh Blood Orange Juice. Use toasted cumin and sea salt on the rim.
Add 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice. Use smoked paprika and sea salt on the rim.
Add juice from 1 orange and a sprig of fresh dill. Use orange zest and salt on the rim.
Jalapeño, of course:
Add a few sliced jalapeños to your shaker. Use toasted cumin and sea salt on the rim.
Yes, Be a Tequila Snob.
Since the primary flavor of the margarita is tequila, make sure you’ve got only the best. Everyone’s taste different, and uniquely theirs, but here are a few tips:
Look for the “100% de agave” legend on the label of your bottle. If it isn’t there, then up to 49% of your tequila is actually fermented cane sugar.
Avoid the so-called “gold.” The liquid is caramel coloring added to make the colorless tequila more appealing.
Here at Bombay House, we love:
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