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Features

Check out Kochi’s new food trucks offering barbeque and more

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The sweltering heat is drawing Kochiites out from the stifling indoors on to cooler evenings outside. Harnessing this tendency to their benefit, several foodpreneurs in the city are investing in mobile outlets to make the hitherto luxurious affair of barbeque an affordable and accessible alternative for the summer.

A viable option for those getting into the food and beverage industry—as in the case of the District 7 food truck which later became a brick-and-mortar store—these curbside diners also change up the culinary landscape of the city. We hit up a few that have sprung up in the region over the past couple of months to see what they have to offer.

BBQ on Wheels

Sports entrepreneur Shahir Koormban encountered a street-side grilled fish concept in Taiwan while on a business trip. Roping in his friend Harris Mukkanan—who has over a decade of experience in cafés in Qatar—he launched a customised vehicle that serves charcoal-grilled dishes.

Powered by electricity for safety reasons, the tuk-tuk parked in Panampilly Nagar is already gaining the attention of foodies despite its limited menu.

“Unlike rotisserie chicken which is pre-cooked, more people are ready to wait 10-12 minutes for our slow-cooked delicacies,” informs Shahir, as I taste their well-grilled bbq legs which makes a flavoursome mouthful with their Levantine garlic dip toum.

Harris informs us that their homemade masala mixes are influenced by the West Asian palate. Priced slightly higher than the legs (`80 per platter), the green-chilli kebab (`100 per platter), grilled on a skewer with pineapple, bell peppers and tomatoes, have subtle flavours infused with spices like caraway seeds.

“We have an evolving menu, with various flavours like malai tikka and shish taouk kebab served through the week. We’re also currently experimenting with beef,” says Harris, as Shahir confirms that they’re expanding to three venues including Kakkanad and Marine Drive in the coming months.

BBQ Ride

Almost a year-and-a-half after the young brother duo Arun and Krishna Varma launched India’s first barbeque-on-motorcycle concept in Bengaluru, their 32nd outlet opens in Kochi. First of its kind in Kerala, we find the modified Royal Enfield parked near Edapally junction.

Our first pick is their the chicken tikka platter served with spiced-up mayonnaise, which introduces their signature tandoori-style spice mix. “We’ve six fixed dishes on the menu (`100 per platter) and we’re also planning to include chef’s specials once a week including beef,” says franchise owner Rajeev Somarajan, who himself was a restaurant manager for five years.

Looking fresh with a liberal stuffing of lettuce, their burgers with a flimsy chicken slice, however, does not let the flavours of the grilled meat cut through. Their perfectly smoked chicken strips and charred-yet-juicy drumsticks are well coated in their spicy ‘secret masala’ mix that I’d choose any day—as munchies with my weekend quota of OMR *wink*.

“We’re planning two more outlets in Kochi and by July expand to other cities in Kerala,” says Rajeev, as we leave disappointed that their only vegetarian option i.e grilled pineapple, was out of stock.

Foodies Mojo

Jon Favreau’s movie Chef left most millennials in a feel-good state about a family-run food truck. Kochi-based fitness equipment entrepreneur Shandas Mohandas and wife Indumathi P are living this dream as we visit their three-week-old truck outlet parked on Queen’s Walkway.

“Ever since my hotel management days I’ve wanted to reach out to people with good food, but it took years of dreaming and over seven months of planning to get this rolling,” says Shandas.

Manned by two chefs, the refurbished van aims to usher in a street dining culture focussed on cuisines other than naadan, serving dishes from mushroom rolls to Arabian biryani rice, and even packaged beverages like Amul Kool.

My palate feels pleasant after tasting their honey-glazed satay which leaves a light tingle of spice on my taste buds. Even while serving many options for vegetarians, I learn that the couple is already working out the blueprint for an all-veg truck.

Their Nepali chef Dil Bahadur’s flattened chicken steak tastes fantastic when paired with a piquant potato side-dish reminiscent of Bengali aloo poshto.

“We’re planning to welcome musicians for street jams by the truck,” informs Shandas, as I gobble down the mild kati roll stuffed with chat masala-springled chicken and eggs.

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