The Keema Frankie at Pondicheri
Keema Frankie, a.k.a. Indian Burrito.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary.
On a recent Friday night, I was craving Tex-Mex and Indian food. With only time and money for one takeout order, what's a girl to do?
The Answer: Go to Pondicheri.
Although Pondicheri doesn't explicitly advertise itself as "fusion" cuisine, some of its playful spins on "classic, homestyle and street foods of India" nevertheless remind me of my favorite Tex-Mex staples. If only by virtue of their appearance, the "frankies" -- egg and roti wraps stuffed with slow-cooked meats, sautéed greens, and a variety of chutneys and yogurt sauces -- evoke the classic burrito in terms of composition and construction.
And since I was specifically craving some sort of red meat taco/quesadilla/tortilla concoction, I ordered the keema frankie, which combines ground beef, tomato, yogurt, greens and caramelized onions. All frankies come with a choice of desi fries or salad, but because I'm all about mega-powerful spices, I substituted a small turmeric rice for no extra charge.
Even in takeout form, the beef frankie retained its taste and integrity: The roti was fluffy and wonderfully earthy in flavor, the ground meat strongly redolent of cumin and just a bit of cinnamon, and the onions soft and pleasantly sweet. Unfortunately, the tomato and yogurt were barely detectable; a heavier ladle of sauce with a greater proportion of yogurt would have done much to balance the more complex, fiery keema flavors (a deficiency that's easily fixed if you have plain yogurt and some tomato or red pepper paste at home). My side of rice kept the meal fairly light, rather than gut-busting (which I predict might have been the case had I gone with the more substantial desi fries).
I'm well aware that referring to the frankie as an "Indian burrito" is pretty Ameri-(Texas?)-centric. But I don't mean to do the frankie a disservice by implying it is a "derivative" dish; I like it very much in its own right and am just additionally delighted it happens to satisfy two culinary cravings at once.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.