Fajitas, which are believed to have evolved in Texas somewhere in the 30s and 40s of the previous century, owe their existence to the ingenuity of the Mexican ranch workers. The workers often had to make do with cheaper cuts of beef like skirt steak that are known to be tough. They tenderized the meat by pounding it, marinated it in citrus and cooked it on an open flame. The finished meat was served rolled in a tortilla along with a variety of condiments. And, voila! The Fajita was born. However, the Fajita had to wait until the 80s to become the food phenomenon it is today. These days, almost anything can be used to make a Fajita, which is now an integral part of Tex-Mex cuisine.
La Cantina at Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre is hosting a Fajita and Mojito festival until the end of this month. On offer are a dozen variants of Fajitas and almost as many kinds of Mojitos. I was invited to a tasting session to experience some of the dishes on offer. I sampled five Fajitas that were recommended by Chef Saurav Choudhuri.
First to arrive was Pork Fajita prepared from Mexican spiced pulled pork belly. The pork had been cooked sous-vide for six hours. Sous-vide is a modern cooking technique in which meat is sealed in a plastic bag and immersed in mildly heated water bath for prolonged periods. While the sealing the meat ensures that the flavours and aromas are not allowed to escape, the low temperature ensures that the meat is cooked evenly without rupturing the tissues. So, how was the pork? Absolutely brilliant. This is some of the best pork I’ve had in recent memory, and the dish as a whole was dazzling.
The next dish to arrive was Camaron Fajitas. Succulent pieces of prawns marinated in ranchero sauce are blow-torched and are served on skewers. There’s also a small portion of herbed rice on the side. I loved the slight char on the prawns and consumed this dish as a typical sizzler with the fabulous Arroz Verde (herbed rice) instead of wrapping it around the tortilla. This dish is served with a side of Ranchero sauce that might come into play in case you want to enjoy this as a Fajita. Tex-Mex Chicken Fajita is probably the most familiar preparation on the menu. Strips of chicken in hot chipotle sauce served with refried beans, pickled jalapenos, and cilantro.
There are as many as five vegetarian Fajitas on the menu. I tried a couple of them, and sorely missed the meat in both. However, the Chickpea and Bell Pepper Fajita was the better of the two. The roasted Chickpea with herb garlic sauce have an almost desi vibe to it and should appeal to the Indian palate.
The Mojito selection includes fruity concoctions like Pomegranate, Lychee and Pomegranate, and Frozen Kiwi. While the majority stick to the classic formula of White Rum, Soda, and Mint, there are a few variations. Lager Mojito mixes fresh orange with beer, while Mojito La Rosa includes white and dark rum along with rose syrup, ginger, and lemon.
The Fajita festival is on until 30th of this month, and offers a unique opportunity to relish some expertly crafted, unique Fajitas. Both the Mojitos and Fajitas are priced at around Rs. 700 apiece, which is quite reasonable.