Today’s Special: The Mexico City couple drawing on two very different culinary heritages

Find out how Norma Listman and Saqib Keval, the founders of Masala y Maíz, pair diverse cookery styles with convergent views on social justice
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Norma Listman and Saqib Keval. Photo by Ana Lorenzana
Norma Listman and Saqib Keval. Photo by Ana Lorenzana

Do too many cooks really spoil the broth? Not in Today’s Special. In this new book, 20 established figures in contemporary gastronomy, including José Andrés, Yotam Ottolenghi and Daniela Soto-Innes, select 100 of the best emerging chefs from around the world.  

These new talents all provide home cooks like us with interesting and often novel new recipes. However, despite their relative youth, in many cases, the chefs’ careers and culinary heritage are the key ingredients in their cookery success. Take for example, Norma Listman and Saqib Keval, the founders of Masala y Maíz in Mexico City.

The 'masala' part of the name - the word for a popular mix of south Asian spices - relates to Keval, the American-born son of East African immigrants who trace their ancestry to Kutch, India, explains our new book.

Maíz - the Spanish word for that Latin American staple maize or sweetcorn - is Listman's addition. A native of Texcoco, Mexico, she champions Mexican culinary history.

Their rebellious mixing of flavours is a mestizaje, an intermingling of disparate cultures with a mind toward revolution. This dynamic conversation materializes in dishes like esquites, the corn-based Mexican street snack, reimagined with fresh coconut milk, ginger, and turmeric in a nod to Kenyan makai pakka; and uttapam, a dosa, or fermented Indian flatbread, made there with a base of nixtamalized blue corn and cooked with squash blossoms and nutty salsa macha.”

 

Lamb barbacoa by Norma Listman and Saqib Keval. Photo by Ana Lorenzana
Lamb barbacoa by Norma Listman and Saqib Keval. Photo by Ana Lorenzana



Indeed, the couple’s revolutionary work doesn’t finish when Masala y Maíz’s service ends; Listman and Keval are also keen social-justice advocates. “The chefs source locally and ethically, and take care of staff with the same care, offering employees equitable wages, comprehensive health care, overtime pay, fixed schedules, and ownership in a worker-owned cooperative grocery store,” explains our book.  

 

Today's Special: 20 Leading Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs


You can get a taste of Listman and Keval’s work by recreating their lamb barbacoa and old-fashioned donut recipes, which appear in Today’s Special, alongside recipes from, and profiles of, many other hot, new culinary prospects. To find out more and order your of Today's Special copy go here.


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