Reporting Sara Pelissero
With so many new — and delicious — food trucks hitting the streets of the Twin Cities each summer, it’s almost too tough to keep up. Well, fear not, we’re here to help. Here’s this week’s food truck feature!
One of the best things about the recent influx of Twin Cities food trucks is that if you wait long enough, you’ll find a truck serving something from just about every part of the world.
Answering our prayers for a taste of India, newcomer Hot Indian Foods has just hit the pavement — bringing their signature indurritos, packed with tons of flavor and flair.
Alongside the delicious fare being dished up, Hot Indian Foods is also serving a side dish of culture, hoping to introduce or reacquaint the masses to the fun, sassy side of India.
With promotions like a frequent customer card that gets you a free indurrito (and a high five from the owner) and $1 off your meal if you can show off your best Bollywood dance move, the truck is ready and excited to take you on a culinary journey.
So take their advice and follow the brown around town.
Owner: Amol Dixit
Date the food truck opened: Two weeks ago on May 15.
What kind of food do you serve? A modern take on Indian food. I realize Indian food can be intimidating for a lot of people so we wanted to make it more approachable and accessible, which is why we’re putting it into a burrito form. Our signature is an indurrito, which is an Indian burrito. The options are really traditional Indian flavors but in a more familiar format, a burrito.
Price range of menu: The indurritos are about $9-$10. We also have a couple snacks, which again are kind of Indian takes on more familiar things. So indi frites are Indian-spiced fries, which are $4. We also have a combo, we call it the Thin Mustache, and it’s an indurrito with a side and a drink for $13.
Hours of operation: Downtown lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and we’ve done a couple tap rooms in the evening, Harriet Brewing and Fulton, typically around 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. We’re also going to be at a bunch of weekend events coming up. (Check their twitter for more information.)
What was your job before opening the food truck? I spent 15 years at General Mills in marketing, left last summer and decided I wanted to start my own food business.
What made you want to open a food truck? My original idea was to start a packaged food business, like take what I learned at General Mills and try to apply that. So I had this idea for a contemporary Indian brand but then I decided instead of just launching directly into grocery stores, why not start with a truck and use the truck as an innovation lab. So my long-term goal remains to eventually bring the Hot Indian brand into the grocery store. The truck is a great way to learn what do people like, what do they not like. We can experiment as much as we want here and get real-time feedback. We’re all viewing it as a lab.
How is the food prepared? To have a license for a food truck, you have to have a commercial kitchen. So our kitchen space is in northeast Minneapolis, out of a catering company’s kitchen, Joseph Catering. … It’s a good community. There’s about four or five trucks there. The majority of our prep and storage is done there and then we load up the truck. We do have a full kitchen so we can cook from here, as well.
How did you decide on the menu? We have our two chefs here — Janene (Holig) is our executive chef and Rebecca (Jackson) is our sous chef. I hired them right away. They both have experience as trained chefs. They were both working at Wise Acre Eatery in south Minneapolis. Basically what I said to them was, “creative Indian wraps: go. What would you do?” Janene just immersed herself in Indian cuisine and she’s come up with all the recipes. And now that she’s immersed in that space, she’s constantly coming up with new ideas whether it’s for new indurritos or new snacks. Just the direction or the guidance I gave — I mean, I’m not a chef, I’m not a cook whatsoever — I just said, I want flavorful Indian food and flavors in a more accessible form.
How did you come up with the name? I wanted something that was just kind of fun, easy and memorable. Kind of as a joke, I threw it out to my wife. I was playing around with all sorts of “marketing” names and I was like, “What if I just call it Hot Indian?” And she kind of laughed and said, “I think that’s it.” As I started telling other people, their first reaction was always a chuckle and I was like, “That’s it. That’s what I want.” I checked the website and twitter, everything was available … so done.
What’s your favorite dish that you serve? This is cheating a little bit but I’m going to say the flight because you can choose three of the four. They’re all so good in their own way. So yesterday, when we were closing up, I had them make me a flight because I couldn’t choose.
Describe your truck in one word: Alive.
What’s your craziest story from working at a food truck? We’ve been fortunate so far. Nothing major. The truck hasn’t broken down or anything yet. Part of that is we worked with really good partners to make sure everything was good to go. Chameleon Concessions out in Plymouth, they build out food trucks. They installed all of the equipment and made sure the truck is running well and Pixel Werx is the company that did the wrap. So I’m glad we spent the time and the money to make sure it was really built right. Because I don’t know anything about fixing a truck. (Laughs)
What’s one thing you want people to know about your food truck? What I really want to do with this business is not only bring Indian food to the masses but also a little bit of the Indian culture to the masses — the fun, kind of cheeky side of it. In TV and movies, you see certain sides of the Indian culture, which are real and great but there’s this fun, vibrant, sexy, cheeky side that doesn’t always come through. I want that to come through the food, definitely, but also the experience — the branding, the marketing, everything we do, I want it to be fun. That’s why I use the word “alive” to describe the truck. I want people to know there’s something about Indian food and culture that’s accessible.
Catch the Food Truck Feature every week, in the Curiocity column. Know of a food truck you think should be featured? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting your suggestion to @SaraPelissero!