Friday night I stayed up until 2:30am wrapping samosas. NaanStop was hosting its first menu tasting the next evening and I wanted everything to be perfect. We would be serving some strangers who were food bloggers, food truck enthusiasts, and really active on twitter and I didn’t want to disappoint. I was worried that a bad review would sink us before we even started.
I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I had just kicked a cold and my sense of taste was still fried. Samir was serving as my taste buds, telling me to adjust spice when necessary. It felt like one of those team building exercises where you get blindfolded and led from one point to another. You usually get there ok, but not before a few stumbles. Needless to say, I felt a little uneasy.
Saturday we finished most of our prep work pretty early and spent much of the day waiting in anticipation until 6pm when we could head to the commercial kitchen we had rented out for the night at Surfas in Culver City and start setting up. For months Samir and I have been working on getting this Indian food truck going – working on permits, researching pricing info, making phone calls about truck leasing, etc. But, this was the first time when it felt real to me that I was starting a food truck. We had let other people try the food before, but only informally and in small groups. We spent the days leading up to the tasting planning what part of the menu we would be serving, designing a survey to get detailed feedback, and shopping.
In the end, I thought the event worked out great. About 25 people came (we wanted to keep it small for the first one) including some friends, food bloggers, and people from www.thefoodtrucker.com and www.gotfoodtrucks.com. Everyone seemed as excited as we were and we received a lot of positive feedback and some great minor suggestions that could make the food even better. I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Now that the first one is over, I’m really looking forward to fine tuning the recipes and hosting a few more tastings before we launch early next year. If you have any comments, would like to be a part of our next tasting, or know someone who would, please let me know.
The tasting menu:
Samosas: a savory pastry filled with a mix of potatoes, onions, peas, and Indian spices, served with an apple tamarind chutney
Tandoori Chicken Naanwich: An Indian classic. Chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, and spices including garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and others. It has a bright red-orange color from chili powder,paprika, and turmeric. We stuff a naan with the chicken and top it with grilled onions and peppers, fresh spinach, and a cooling yogurt cilantro chutney.
Kabob Naanwich: Ground turkey meat mixed with chili peppers and onions along with cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and our mom’s special garam masala blend, then seared on the grill. Also wrapped in a naan with grilled onions and peppers, fresh spinach, and yogurt cilantro chutney.
This is part of an ongoing series about the start up of a food truck called NaanStop. We will be launching in the first quarter of 2011. You can follow us on twitter @NaanStop, on Facebook, or email me at email@example.com with any feedback. Check back here for weekly updates!
Additional information about starting and running a food truck business: