Masala y Maiz explores the migration of people, culinary techniques, ingredients, cultural food ways and political movements between South Asia, East Africa & Mexico.
Chefs Norma & Saqib dreamed Masala y Maiz as a restaurant like few others. They opened in October 2017 to create a space that sat at the intersections of their artistic & gastronomic principles and serve food that felt & tasted like home. Masala y Maiz is Mestizaje Rebelde.
The dishes tell the stories of people coming together, over generations and across continents, to create food that is mestizo, or blended. There is no fusion here. No forcing of cultures together. Masala y Maiz is something else. The restaurant is based on years of research by the chefs to understand the intersections of their respective cultures and the many similarities between their foodways. They cook in those shared flavors and histories.
The food is a mestizaje- an organic blending of cultures over generations often in response to colonization & displacement. This is the culture in-between that happens when people come together. The food of Masala y Maiz is intensely personal, based on the family recipes & histories of Norma & Saqib.
The project started as a series of small dinners that brought together artists, farmers, chefs & activists over beautiful shared meals and discussions. The restaurant continues this culture, bringing together diverse guests over family style meals in an intimate dining room designed by activist artist Pedro Reyes.
The restaurant features a seasonally changing menu featuring organic produce and sustainable seafood and proteins from 6 small farms near Mexico City. The natural wine program features a weekly changing list of wines from around the world. In creating this restaurant, Norma & Saqib wanted to create their dream working conditions, not just for their staff but also for their farmers and purveyors. Masala y Maiz serves a full breakfast and lunch menu Monday through Friday as well as a brunch service on Saturday. The chefs also regularly host private dinners, cooking classes and lectures at their space.
The restaurant is a reflection of the chefs’ beliefs that food can be used as a powerful tool for environmental & social justice and that chefs have the responsibility to advocate and work towards bettering labor conditions for everyone in the food industry.