The Long Island food truck scene has finally transcended all those umbrella hot dog trucks along the side of the road. Two weeks ago the Tandoori Truck, all bright orange and white, took up residence on a vacant lot across from Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale.
The truck, as well as the restaurant with the same name—which opened about six months ago—is the brainchild of Chani Singh, an original owner of the Curry Club in East Setauket as well as Chani’s Unique Indian which wowed them in Islip for a few seasons.
But do not confuse the Tandoori Truck with one of the ubiquitous Halal stands on every other corner in Manhattan. Those stands are little more than fast food griddles, doling out lamb or chicken and rice platters and sandwiches.
This is not about fast food. It’s a lot more serious. It’s a self-contained full-scale catering operation on wheels, equipped with two tandoori ovens and a stove, with which all the food is cooked.
The idea for the truck stemmed from the need for portable tandoori ovens. As Singh explained, hotels have difficulty catering Indian weddings and other parties due to the lack of the traditional tandoori ovens, a necessity for authentic Indian cooking. They are difficult to transport and when set outside the hotel kitchens, as is the usual practice, the smoke usually ends up in the hotel.
The Tandoori Truck solves that problem. All the meat is Halal and the truck features a full menu of kebabs, curries, biryanis and breads, all cooked fresh everyday. There’s a much larger catering menu available too. Everything I sampled was top notch. Bright red Chicken Tikka Masala ($10.99) made with tender breast meat soaked up the thick sauce. A large container of fragrant basmati rice accompanied it. (Ask for medium if you want any kind of heat, opting for mild yields no kick.) Lamb Biryani ($9.99) is a hearty blend of basmati with braised chunks of meat sweetened by raisins. I find it incredible that the Naan ($1.99) bread is baked right there on the side of Route 110 with cars and trucks whizzing by. It comes to you hot and nicely charred and you’ll probably eat it all on the ride back to your desk. Beware: Don’t naan and drive. The same goes for the Onion Kulcha ($3.99). Thick and soft and spicy, it goes perfectly with the yogurt vegetable dip called Raita ($2.) I got my afternoon smoothie fix in the form of Mango Lassi ($2.50) a refreshing yogurt drink made with mango puree.
Office workers in the area already know to call in their orders ahead, but you and I will pull over, grab a menu, order, and retreat to our cars for a few minutes and catch up on email. The truck is closed on Sundays and the restaurant is closed on Mondays. The restaurant has begun serving a dinner buffet for $11.95.
Route 110/Broadhollow Road
Farmingdale (east side, between Costco and the Melting Pot)
96 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville