NEW YORK - No forks are necessary when Indian cuisine meets Caribbean street food.
"I wanted Taco Mahal to be fast and casual, and still great-quality food," said Danikkah Josan, who opened her very first restaurant in the West Village in almost two years ago to blend her two cultures.
"My mother is from Puerto Rico and my father is from India, so I grew up eating fusion food my whole life," she said. "I just happened to love tacos. So why not do Indian tacos?"
She said she couldn't figure what to name the restaurant but a friend suggested "Taco Mahal."
"We loved it and we just ran with it," Josan said.
Her small spot on the corner of 7th Avenue is in the same space where her dad Singh owned a newsstand for decades.
"It was opened in the 1980s, my dad had a typical newsstand. He was here over 35 years," she said. "He wanted to retire and he gave me the place. He gave me full rein to do what I wanted to do."
The specialty here is a blend of Indian classics and Puerto Rican street food.
"People love tacos because you can try so many different dishes in little bite sizes. Our signature dish is chicken tikka masala taco. So you can have a chicken tikka masala taco on naan bread or on roti bread, the roti bread acts as your tortilla and so does your naan. The rotis are small like street tacos and the naan is double the size. So it's more like a burrito," Josan said. "The secret is in the sauce. The sauce is really what gives everything its flavor. There are so many different spices that go into it. Chicken tikka masala is the longest process of any protein that we make here. And tastes the best."
Josan's father is helping her live out her dream.
"He works here all the time. He helps me because he knows that I'm here from morning till night. He's my biggest supporter," Josan said. "He tells everybody, 'Oh, my daughter has a restaurant in the city.' Everybody he knows, he tells. I love him for that. He's awesome."
She added that she wants to keep growing the family business.
"We're just so proud that we're still here after so many years," Josan said.
Taco Mahal | 73 7th Ave. South, New York, NY 10014 | 646-719-1553 | tacomahalnyc.com