Restaurant News & Reviews

Discover Western Indian flavors via this uptown food truck

Pav bhaji, a curry-like vegetable stew, is a traditional west Indian favorite at the Marathi Tadka truck.
Pav bhaji, a curry-like vegetable stew, is a traditional west Indian favorite at the Marathi Tadka truck.

Love Indian food? You’re likely aware of the regional cuisines of north India (curries, naan bread) and south India (lentil dishes and dosa crepes). But did you know that western India has flavors of its own?

The new Marathi Tadka food truck began bringing specialties from the west Indian state of Maharashtra to uptown Charlotte this spring. Aparna Padhye and her husband Sandeep Padhye — her a computer tech, him a chemical engineer — grew up near Mumbai. The big banking city sends many information technology specialists to Charlotte.

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Aparna Padhye (left) and her husband Sandeep Padhye park their Indian food truck at uptown spots two lunchtimes each week. Tom Hanchett

“When we came to Charlotte, we found north Indian and south Indian restaurants, but not west India,” she recalls. “There are hundreds of distinctive traditional and healthy recipes. We offer just a sample.”

Every lunchtime, the Padhyes post a different array of menu items, each on a sheet of paper fresh from a color computer printer, taped to the side of the truck. Most are vegetarian, with a chicken dish added from time to time.

Pav bhaji shows up almost every day. It’s a curry-like vegetable stew featuring tomato, peas and chunks of potato. Indian spices provide a pleasing zing. “We use masala spices imported directly from India,” Aparna Padhye says.

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Bhel snack mix features puffed rice and other crispy bits, topped with tomato, chopped onion and cilantro. Tom Hanchett

Bhel is another vegetarian favorite. It’s a snack mix made of puffed rice and other crispy bits, with a drizzle of tamarind sauce to add a faint sweetness — all packed into a paper cone for easy eating.

The Marathi Tadka truck has become an instant hit among Indian office workers in center city Charlotte. A line 20 people deep waited happily the first time I stumbled upon it. Because Mumbai is such an important cultural center, explains Sandeep Padhye: “People all over India know this food.”

Find community historian Tom Hanchett’s writings at HistorySouth.org. Reach him at Tom@HistorySouth.org.

Marathi Tadka food truck

November schedule: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Gateway Village, 800 W. Fifth St.; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays next to Foundation for the Carolinas, 220 N. Tryon St.

Details: 980-338-0085; www.MarathiTadkaUS.com.

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