Remember the ramen burger? How about the cruffin or mochi donut? In 2019 A.D. (After Duffin), these fusion dishes keep poppin’ up one after the other, thanks to a monkey’s paw that just keeps curling every time Roy Choi has another wild idea.
But between the late 1800s and 1917, Punjabi men came to the United States seeking new lives, settling as farmers or tamale sellers on the West Coast, before the Immigration Act of 1917 stopped more Asians from immigrating to the U.S.
With few other Indian women in the U.S., many Punjabi men married Hispanic women—partially due to cultural similarities, and partially because when they’d show up at the county office, they could both check “brown.”
By 1940, those biracial families were going strong … with fusion Hispanic and Punjabi food to show for it.
Two words: roti quesadilla
Families quickly learned to adapt their cuisines to suit both Punjabi and Hispanic tastes. Traditional Punjabi chicken recipes would be adapted with Mexican tomato sauce. And customers of Punjabi-Mexican restaurants would order chili and beans with parathas, making their own fusion dishes.
And of course, there was the roti quesadilla: a dish with “melted cheese, onions, and shredded beef sandwiched inside a paratha [...] served with a curry chicken dipping sauce.” Which—we’re going to need to take a breather after that one.
In 1974, after years of discrimination from both non-Punjabi-Hispanic Punjabi and Mexican families, Punjabi Mexicans started the annual Mexican-Hindu Christmas dance, celebrating their unique heritage.
But now, the community has largely assimilated into either Indian or Mexican communities. Marriages between Punjabis and Mexicans have dwindled. And both Mexican and Indian restaurateurs have their own cultural concepts to mine.
As for that roti quesadilla? The restaurant closed a long time ago. But in 2019 After Duffin, anything’s still possible.