City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
Mushroom Pakora

Featured Article

Creative, Fresh Food With a Middle-Eastern and Indian Twist

Culinary Creations

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming front of Tikka Hut’s new Indian School Road location. Inside, you’ll find an almost entirely from-scratch kitchen creating delicious dishes that embrace the Islamic influence on Indian food.

The word “tikka” means “small pieces”—it’s essentially the Middle Eastern version of jerky. Travelers would cook food on an open flame and chew tikka on long, arduous journeys.

The owner, Hanif Mohamed, is a storyteller and creative at heart. He aims to tell the stories of those who came before him while developing unique culinary creations with his team.

Hanif is from both India and Kenya—and takes these influences seriously. When we’re on the phone, I feel like I’m getting a short History lesson (in a good way) on the influences the Portuguese, British, and Arabs had on the east coast of Africa.

“When you eat here, you’re getting a hint of Indian spices, but it’s not over powering.”

And I couldn’t agree more—the food at Tikka Hut is perfectly spiced. Frankly, it’s unlike any food I’ve tried—a mouthwatering blend of Persian, Indian, and Swahili spices. The chicken is juicy. The pita is warm.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Dennis Apodaca, who jokes, “I’m just a dishwasher.”

That’s how it is here at Tikka Hut—everyone pitches in. “I make the ice creams by hand,” says Dennis. “They’re kulfi inspired.” (Kulfi is a dense, Indian ice cream.) Try Indian-inspired flavors infused with saffron, cardamom, or cumin, or a traditional flavor, like guava.

Dennis also makes lassi by hand, an Indian yogurt drink. “We try to be as much of a scratch kitchen as we can,” he says. “Maria makes all the pita, pizza dough, and tortillas by hand every day.” (Both flour and corn tortillas are offered.)

It’s clear one thing above all is important to the team—delicious, fresh food.

Arguably the most impressive thing about Tikka Hut, aside from the freshness and quality of its ingredients, is the innovation infused in every dish.

I got the impression the recipes at Tikka Hut are somewhat fluid—Dennis is currently trying to perfect the art of making a gluten free pakora, a type of Indian street food, doused in chickpea flour and then deep fried. The texture and flavor of the mushroom pakora is utterly satisfying. Dennis says it isn’t quite as crispy as he wants it to be—but I beg to differ.

Other must-try dishes at Tikka Hut include the chicken tikka pizza and the roast chicken.

Indian pizza? Who ever heard of such a thing?

And I asked Hanif just that. What was the influence behind making Indian pizza?

“[The] pizza oven was here when we took over the new location,” he says. So he posed himself a seemingly simple question: We’ve got this pizza oven… Now what do we do with it?

Hanif and Dennis may be creative with their dishes, but they’re practical, too. Hanif wanted to incorporate the items they already had on hand into the pizza. “[So] that’s what we did,” he says. “And it all works.”

“You just knew how to make pizza dough?” I ask.

Not quite.

He got a hold of the original owner who opened a pizza restaurant in that location thirteen years ago—and asked him to teach the team how to make pizza.

“He came in and spent a couple of days training us.” Hanif said. And as previously mentioned, it’s made from scratch. Every single day.

No wonder it’s so good. My only regret was eating only one slice, instead of buying a whole pie.

  • Half Rotisserie Plate
  • Masala Fries
  • Mushroom Pakora
  • Chicken Tikka Pizza

Businesses featured in this article