As the quintessential birthplace of gourmet food trucks, Los Angeles seems to be inviting more and more enthusiasts from all over the nation to make their food truck dreams become reality. That’s exactly what brothers Neal & Samir, originally from Tennessee, are doing as I type this blog post.
The NaanStop logo and design of the tasting menu.
With their mother’s cooking as an inspiration and the motivation to bring “true North Indian food to the general public,” the brothers have been working hard on every little detail of their gourmet food truck, comically called “Naan Stop.” Naan, if you don’t know already, is a leavened bread that is baked in a clay oven called a Tandoor. They have, for the most part, perfected a menu that will appeal to people from all sort of different cultures, cuisines and palates.
Family, friends & guests enjoying the social atmosphere at the tasting kitchen.
Practice makes perfect and that is exactly what the brothers have done by having private tastings. Their first tasting in mid-October, just like the tasting I attended, had food bloggers, food truck enthusiasts, friends and family galore. From the native East Indian(like myself) to the curious wallflower, the group was varied in palate and therefore allowed for a broad spectrum of reviews.
Surfa’s Test Kitchen in Culver City was the location of the tasting after business hours which called for a lovely atmosphere to be having a preview tasting.
The Tasting Menu:
Samosas: A street staple, a samosa is basically an Indian turnover filled with potatoes, onions, peas, and Indian spices, served with an apple tamarind chutney. These were crisp and hot and the chutney gave me just the right amount of sweet needed to mix with the spice and savory flavors inside the fried dough. I personally enjoy mixing a sweet chutney with the classic green chutney.
Tandoori Paneer Naanwich: Paneer is an Indian style cheese with a mild taste similar to ricotta, but with a firm texture like tofu. This “naanwich” is exactly what it sounds like: a sandwich (of a sort) rolled up in a piping hot naan! The paneer is marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, and spices including garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Topped with grilled onions and peppers, fresh spinach, and a cilantro chutney yogurt, all the flavors blended seamlessly. This was definitely my favorite dish of the whole tasting.
Lamb Curry Naanwich: I never eat lamb. ever. But when the brothers started heating up the braised lamb that had been slow cooked for hours in a tomato, onion, and yogurt based gravy, I couldn’t resist. The meat was so tender it just melted when I took a bite. It is also wrapped in a naan with grilled onions and peppers, fresh spinach, and yogurt cilantro chutney. Definitely a plus for my expectations on a protein I usually do not consume.
Mango Samosa: The brothers experimented here and came up with a dessert version of the classic samosa filled with mango, cinnamon, and a hint of chili. The flavors were definitely to my liking(if you haven’t noticed by now, I do have an affection towards mangos in any shape, size or form), but the execution was still in the works of being perfected. That is what small tastings are for, of course, to find out anything that needs to be edited and meticulously redone for the big launch.
Overall, the tasting was a success! Each attendee was given a detailed scorecard to grade the appearance, taste and many other factors important to the entrepreneurs of an up and coming food truck. We filled them out and talked to others over a refreshing bottle of Limca, India’s favorite carbonated lime beverage(similar to Sprite, but better) and called it a night and went home.
***I’m working on an HD video for the NaanStop guys but I’m new at video editing so i’ll post it when I get it just right***
The guys of NaanStop have officially announced their grand opening truck stop at the Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia on January 29th. The event will have 15 other trucks, a wine tent and a gastropub as well as live horse races every half hour! For more information on the event and tickets, check it out here: http://www.santaanitaevents.com/
Check out the rest of the delicious photos from the tasting here: NaanStop Tasting Party (also on the sidebar).
-gmangoman a.k.a hemang