SAKTHI MEKANA KARTHIK
Thosai is a staple in South Indian households. Guacamole is popular across Mexico. The two have been combined to make a dish which its Singaporean creators believe is the first of its kind in the world.
Local rapper Yung Raja, 26, whose real name is Rajid Ahamed, and his long-time friend Ong Weiquan, 40, the owner of the superfood concept store Gorilla Press, are the brains behind this fusion item.
Their thosai-tacos are available in different forms at The Maha Co, the Indian-Mexican cafe they opened at the start of this year at 1 Fusionopolis Link.
Raja said he wanted to showcase his identity as an Indian to the world and thosai, a breakfast staple which his mother makes, felt the most appropriate to do so. The pair refined it after months of research and development.
"Quan and I tried my mother's thosai with different sweet and savoury fillings in my house," said Raja. "We were blown away when we paired nutella and peanut butter with thosai. It was an incredible experience and that's when we decided to share what we loved with the world."
Raja added that Mexican and Indian cuisines are very similar and complement each other well.
The duo decided to call the cafe Maha because it comes from the word Maharaja.
"It rings a bell in me that, just like my music, I want the greatest for people around me," he said. "Moreover, the logo of our cafe is an elephant which represents royalty and love. These reflect everything that I am as an individual."
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the duo worked hard for eight months to launch The Maha Co.
"Covid-19 was a silver lining for us," said Weiquan. "It gave us time to thoroughly plan and execute our ideas in the most authentic way."
Raja, an avid fan of Tamil film superstar Rajnikanth, added that the cafe is not money motivated but an extension of his soul as an artiste.
The Maha Co's walls are plastered with Indian film and Mexican posters which reflect Raja's dream of opening a restaurant since childhood.
"We believe that anyone who steps into our cafe, especially after a long day of work, would be rejuvenated and have a great time," he said.
The menu includes guacamole thosai-tacos with salsa, grilled cheese thosai-tacos with tomato, crispy chicken in thosai-tacos with cucumber yogurt and peanut butter nutella with ice cream.
Desserts include coconut gelato and mango ice cream. One can also grab a craft beer or two and choose from a range of freshly pressed juices.
For those who enjoy thosai the traditional way, there is also the plain thosai with vegetable curry option.
"One of the most special aspects of our cafe is that our thosai batter is made from scratch using my mother's recipe," said Raja. "We do not use pre-packaged thosai batter as we want the taste of the thosai to be as authentic as possible.
"I want to stay true to my South Indian roots."
Raja's parents hail from Tamil Nadu and are traditional. They are his biggest supporters and have approved his fusion food venture.
"My family has been the biggest support system in my life," said Raja. "They have always told me to follow my dreams and that anything is possible.
"Before we began selling the food to the public, our family and friends came to taste it. They approved it and that is why it is extra special."
"Quan and I tried my mother's thosai with different sweet and savoury fillings in my house. We were blown away when we paired nutella and peanut butter with thosai. It was an incredible experience and that's when we decided to share what we loved with the world."
- Local rapper Yung Raja