India Jones’ Butter Chicken is a Force to Be Reckoned With
Midtown Lunch: LA has been up and running for 2 weeks now, and not a single post about street food? Embarrassing… so on Friday I set to rectify the situation by heading to the new Downtown food truck food court on S Alameda and Traction run by the SoCal MFVA. I was excited to try India Jones, which had been recommended by Lunch’er Damara during my last week of lunching in NYC. I’m a huge fan of the kati roll (an Indian burrito/soft taco of sorts popular on the streets of Kolkata), and was worried that moving to L.A. would end my affair with the Indian street snack I had come to know and love.
Is there anything this city doesn’t have!?
India Jones doesn’t actually serve Kati Rolls (or kathi kebab rolls, as they are known in Kolkata), but the Bombay version known as frankies. Whereas kati rolls are normally just paratha stuffed with kebab style meats, the frankies have an egg or egg wash fried into the bread and tend to be stuffed with saucier proteins.
Surprisingly the India Jones truck uses Mexican style flour tortillas instead of chapati, although the owner claims it is exactly like the bread you’ll find in Bombay. And considering he comes from one of the largest restaurant families in India, and has been cooking this food for 30 years, I wasn’t about to argue with him! Authentic or not, I was expecting Indian bread and didn’t love the tortilla, but it didn’t taste *bad*. And the filling (I ordered the lamb) was nice little chunks of grilled lamb seasoned with a tangy and spicy tamarind chutney. Not what I was expecting bread wise, but tasted good enough to make me want to try the chicken and paneer versions.
I also tried one of their parathas, which I thought might have been a kati roll (since those usually come on paratha.) Nope. Mexican flour tortillas again, served with a thin layer of potato, cauliflower, or minced beef. Almost like a cheese-less quesadilla, there wasn’t nearly enough filling (I went with cauliflower) for the flavor to come through the overpowering garam masala topped flour tortillas. Of course anything tastes good dipped in raita, the yogurt and cucumber sauce that comes with it. Not bad… but not great. And certainly not as good as a traditional stuffed paratha you’d get at an Indian restaurant. I’m guessing the beef and potato versions stand up better to the tortillas than the raw shredded cauliflower, but the bread alone makes the “parathas” as pass for me. (Especially if you’re expecting it to be as good as a fresh stuffed paratha from an Indian restaurant.)
Even though I was there for the frankies and parathas, the real star of the truck turned out to be the curries which are $7 each (or $8 for your choice of two.) There are four options every day (one chicken, one meat, one vegetable, and one dal.) Lucky for me butter chicken was being offered on Friday, which is one of their signature dishes, and I got it paired with eggplant masala.
Amazing. I could have drank a cup of the butter chicken sauce (you might say the secret ingredient is cream), and the eggplant was delicious as well. Not a ton of food for $8 (the container is kind of small) and I’m sure there are cheaper Indian places in the area- but the quality is far higher than you would expect from a truck. And I really enjoyed it.
Sadly the curries come with rice *or* naan, so you have to pay an extra $1 if you want rice and bread. You can’t put a tandoori oven on a truck (I don’t think you can anyway), so India Jones is forced to serve a pre-packaged version of naan- which was obviously just meh. I’d stick with the rice.
Finally, I couldn’t leave without getting an order of the samosa spring rolls (what!?) which were pretty much exactly what they sounded like ($3). Spring rolls wrappers stuffed with the same potato filling that goes into a samosa, and deep fried. How could that be bad? And the tamarind cilantro chutney dipping sauce is out of control delicious!
All in all the India Jones truck is definitely one of the good ones. The food came out super fast (unlike many of the new trucks that are popping up these days) and these guys clearly know what they’re doing. I can’t say I love the Mexican flour tortillas, and would prefer an authentic paratha or chapati… but I understand it. Indian food from a truck is not exactly a match made in heaven… but India Jones manages to pull it off about as well as you can expect.
- Indian burrito? Indian quesadillas? Sounds perfect!
- The chef/owner comes one of the largest restaurant families in India, and it totally shines through in his curries and chutnies
- I love me some butter chicken. (Bring on the cream!)
- There is cheaper Indian food to be had, and larger portions, but the curries from this truck are high quality stuff.
- Nothing was super spicy
- I’ve always dreamed of eating a samosa in spring roll form
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The bread is terrible. Give me some real paratha, chapati and naan. I want real Indian bread… if you can’t do that on a truck, then maybe you shouldn’t be selling Indian food from a truck
- What’s with the small portions? For $8 I know plenty of Indian places where you get a ton more food.
- Not enough filling in the parathas
India Jones Truck, Follow Their Location on Twitter
Alameda Food Truck Lot, S. Alameda & Traction. **THIS LOT IS NOW CLOSED**
Posted by Zach Brooks at 11:45 am, February 22nd, 2010 under 26th & Pennsylvania, 5700 Wilshire, 5900 Wilshire, Downtown, Downtown Alameda Food Truck Lot, Food Truck, India Jones Truck, Indian.
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