By Helena Hunt, Staff Writer
By the the end of this month, the city of Waco will finally have a permanent location for Indian food. The Tandoori Trailer will serve such authentic Indian cuisine as chicken curry, vegetable biryani and garlic naan from a food truck at Franklin Avenue and University Parks Drive.
The food truck is set to open by the third week of October. Co-owner Johnny Bhojwani plans to have live music and free T-shirts at the grand opening. There may also be soft openings for guests to sample the Indian fare and give their opinions in the weeks leading up to the grand opening, Bhojwani said.
The concept for Tandoori Trailer began when Bhojwani moved to Waco and noticed a dearth of Indian dining options. Although there weren’t any Indian restaurants or food trucks, Bhojwani noticed that there was still a taste for Indian food in the city.
“It does seem there’s a huge interest for Indian food in Waco. That really made us feel we had to rise up to meet people’s expectations,” Bhojwani said.
Before the grand opening, Bhojwani and his employees are preparing to meet the public’s expectations by perfecting the art of making naan bread and cooking in a clay oven. He said he wants to make the cuisine as good as possible before he opens Tandoori’s doors.
Some of the menu options the staff is working on are chicken and vegetable biryani, a spiced rice dish, lentil soup, butter paneer and chicken curry. Bhojwani plans to use mostly organic and foods sourced from a 50-mile radius. He recently signed a contract with a poultry farm in Hillsboro after visiting himself to see the farm’s conditions.
His commitment to local foods is part of Tandoori’s goal to support and bring together the Waco community. Having a food truck, as opposed to a brick-and-mortar location, allows customers to come and eat in what Bhojwani says is a traditional Indian style.
“In India people would always, in the evening, come outside and eat all together,” Bhojwani said.
Bhojwani also plans to integrate Tandoori into the Baylor community. Bhojwani works on campus as the assistant director of admissions operations and technology for undergraduate admissions, and his co-owner, Nerash Thadani, has a daughter who attends the university. Katy sophomore Aanchal Thadani even helped her dad tailor the food truck to Baylor students.
“I’ve been working with my dad with the idea and logistics,” Thadani said. “I’ve been helping him with understanding what students like.”
Thadani explained to her dad that having the food truck open on Sundays, when many restaurants in Waco and on campus are closed, would help appeal to Baylor students. She also taught him the meaning and importance of “Sic ’Em.”
Students are already looking forward to Tandoori’s opening. Cypress, Calif. sophomore Nichol John said she hopes that the new food truck will contribute to Waco’s diversity.
“I really like international food. We have Greek, Chinese and Mexican, but we didn’t have Indian food,” John said. “Being Indian, it was kind of difficult. It’s just another way for me to stay in touch with my roots. I think it will help people understand more of our culture and help people become more open-minded.”