I discovered the magic of Salsa in Chennai of all the places - in the one and only Tex Mex restaurant it has, courtesy the restaurateur Mahadevan. This former professor turned entrepreneur is credited with introducing global cuisine to Chennai in the 90’s when not many people ate out in the first place, let alone try new cuisines.
And almost every one of his restaurants turned out to be a huge success. Including Don Pepe’s Tex Mex which is located on R K Salai (Cathedral Road) surrounded by his other success stories – Hot Breads ( a bakery chain ) and Zara’s - a Spanish Tapas bar which has the distinction of serving up some delicious Tapas style snacks as well as being the only stand alone pub in Chennai worth it’s Tequila.
Well, it’s not strictly a stand alone pub I guess, since it is technically part of a hotel; which it has to be, due to some archaic rules framed to protect us innocent people from being corrupted - which we would if there were pubs dotting the horizon. But if they are tucked inside hotels which are either too shady or too expensive, than we will escape the lure of alcohol and our morality will remain intact. It’s for our own good.
Of course, I’m not sure about the people who consume 19.3 % of 119 million cases of spirits and 9% of 93 million cases of beer each year in Tamil Nadu (info from here) – couldn’t be us you know, since there aren’t any pubs around! Must be those immoral out-of-towners.
On to the salsa at Don Pepe’s – S and I used to shamelessly polish off almost the whole complimentary bowl even before the appetizers arrived! And then ask for refills for the main course. It used to be juicy, freshly made and absolutely delicious. Oh, how I miss that place after moving to Delhi…….
The bottled ones are mostly a vinegary, pureed concoction with more ketchup than tomato in them and hardly fresh. When we bought a packet of taco chips recently, I decided to make my own salsa. I’m so glad we didn’t get the bottled stuff that day in the convenience store, making this fresh was so worth it!
To the recipe below I also added one roasted red capsicum diced, which I had left over from another recipe and it took the salsa to a whole new level.
I also zapped the diced green pepper in the microwave with a tbsp of water for about a minute just to soften it since I don’t like it too raw.
Some recipes call for the salsa to be pulsed a couple of times in the processor till chunky, but I like it unprocessed.
Tomatoes – 4-5 firm, deseeded and diced (2 cups)
Sweet Corn kernels – ½ cup
Garlic – 2 tbsp minced
Jalapeño peppers – 2 deseeded and chopped
(I substituted with green chillies). You can also have a combination of Jalapeno/chipotle/habanero peppers depending on the heat level you want.
Spring Onions – white part alone, 1 cup chopped fine
Green Pepper – 1 small diced
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves – 1 cup chopped
Dried Oregano / Mixed dried herbs - 1 tbsp
Tabasco sauce – 1 tsp (optional)
Salt and pepper – to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix together and check seasoning and adjust spice.
2. Let rest for about 10-15 minutes till the flavours mingle and serve with taco chips or nachos. Or on the side with Burritos/Quesadillas/Chimichangas.