Hyderabad, IND: Tuck in at food trucks!

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By Syed Mohammad  |  Times of India

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HYDERABAD: It seems like something straight out of the Jon Favreau movie ‘Chef ‘, with the only visible difference being that this one is set in the real life tech hub of Madhapur. All the ingredients of the film are present – quitting a full-time job, reinventing oneself and rediscovering one’s passion to cook. And there is nothing better if the incentive is good business, scores of customers heartily sinking their teeth into a tender piece of chicken, refreshments by their side. All this, kind courtesy of a new concept – the food truck. But while Chef Casper, the protagonist of the movie, thought it best to stick to selling Cuban sandwiches off his truck, the chefs of Madhapur have added to the American idea of dining a distinct desi tadka.

Food truckers say that they are seeking to serve a combo – that of the excitement of the street food experience and the high levels of hygiene of a restaurant, permissions from authorities, labour licenses, the whole nine yards.

Strategically parked in close proximity to offices of multi-national conglomerates in Jubilee Hills, Madhapur and Gachibowli, where the IT crowd usually working the graveyard shift is found, food trucks have an array of offerings. There is a delicacy for every palate, Mexican, Indian, Chinese or the traditional South Indian.According to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s assistant medical officer Dr KS Ravi, there are around 15 such food trucks in the area.

Take for instance the funnily named Attarinti Dosa, literally meaning dosa from the in-laws, at the stretch along Hi-Tec City Road leading to Cyber Towers.It has over 100 items to choose from. One of their specials is the cheekily named Teen Maar Dosa, sliced, rolled and served as three cylinders. While the name may be an allusion to the Pawan Kalyan starrer, it could also be a reference to the riotous striking of the snare drum. But Srikanth Reddy , its proprietor, prefers to keep the inspiration behind the christening a secret. However, he explains, “While the batter remains the same, there are teen key ingredients of the dosa – green peas, sweetcorn and potatoes.”

A little further down is Yum Stop. It is a one-stop-shop which offers a vast spread of dishes cut ting across cuisines. In fact, many food truckers say that Yum Stop began the trend of food trucking. K Kumar Reddy , the proprietor, says, “The credit of bringing food trucks to the city goes to my friend Karthik Yellamanchili, who did his graduation from USA.We have always given importance to maintaining hygiene. Required permissions from the GHMC and other food authorities have been taken.”

Explaining the reasons behind the American concept becoming a success formula, he adds, “There is a huge crowd of single people living in these areas. It becomes difficult for them to carry dinner to office. That’s where we step in.”

Yum Stop has another food truck near Daspalla Hotel at Road No. 36 in Jubilee Hills.

Setting up a truck costs between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 25 lakh.The overheads are low and the profits are high. Food trucker Venu Gopal and proprietor of Khao…!!!, who quit his job in retail in London says, “It has cost me Rs 25 lakh to set up the truck.This includes the cost of customising. And business is good.”

Seeking to explain low operational costs, he says that on an average, a staff of three is required.”Unlike a restaurant, we don’t have a large staff, we don’t pay rents running into tens of thousands or spend lakhs on glitzy interiors. We are only required to charge batteries,” he adds.

Others like Jonathan Paturi took the road less travelled by serving Mexican food at his truck Chepotle near the Wipro office in Gachibowli. Incidentally , Paturi is a survivor of the Costa Concordia disaster, the Italian cruise ship which capsized and sank off Tuscany in January 2012. “Most food trucks offer a regular menu. I thought, why not offer something different. It’s important to offer the food lover something different rather than regular fare,” he says.