Abby Allen · May 14, 2018 · 5 min read
There's something about Indian cuisine that undoubtedly appeals to all palates: a meld of sweet, spicy, tangy, earthy, and robust flavors. How could that flavor lineup possibly become even more desirable? Americanize it! And that's precisely what chef Lokesh Vale did whilst bringing The Twisted Indian to life almost 3 years ago.
Lokesh serves up an Indian Fusion-based menu from his truck and describes his version of this food genre as Indian food presented in an American way...and it is all things whimsical, brilliant and enthralling. I am willing to bet that you have never devoured a Currito (their take on a Burrito), or found yourself lost in a tantalizing bowl of Yogi Fries (Cheese Fries with classic Indian additives).
When Lokesh was in the 8th grade, he discovered his interest in cooking. His fascination was sparked at age 13 when he once watched his father chop a carrot with some speed (and his father rarely cooked), and he then began cooking with his mother. Cooking was not the path that his parents had hoped for him; however, he enrolled in hospitality school and turned his enchantment with the culinary world into a full-blown passion.
The decision to serve up Indian fare for the masses was an effortless choice for Lokesh. For one, it is his heritage, and, more importantly, St. Pete is a prime area for ethnic and cultural food. The folks of our city are also exceptionally into fresh and healthy eats. The vegan and vegetarian population is high, and to cater to that crowd, the Twisted Indian serves up different vegan specials every Saturday at the Saturday Morning Market.
As far as the regular menu is concerned, the Twisted Indian easily has something to appease most anyone's taste. Every item that they serve can be created with one of the following: Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Korma, or Paneer Tikka Masala.
We caught up with Lokesh & The Twisted Indian at 3 Daughter's Brewing recently. Our order included: The Bollywood Bowl with Lamb Korma, The Currito with Chicken Tikka Masala and The Yogi Fries, plain.
When you think of eating from a food truck, the mind typically associates that with food in a hurry, convenience and ease. A dazzling presentation is not usually something on the checklist of expectations, but rather, an added bonus. Each dish that we ordered was presented as though it had been carefully styled. Every garnish of Cilantro, drizzle of sauce and Currito layer was perfectly arranged. This spiked my hunger and excitement to dig in even more.
My very first taste from our spread was of the Bollywood Bowl with Lamb Korma. The bowl is comprised of Lamb Korma (other options include: Chicken Tikka Masala & Paneer Tikka Masala- the Chicken Tikka Masala Bowl is a fan-favorite), Basmati Rice, fresh Spinach, Curried Slaw, Raita Yogurt Sauce and Cilantro.
The Lamb was oh, so tender, and virtually melted in my mouth. For me, it was the star of the show. All of the components of the Bowl in unison made for a very structured, balanced and all-around satisfying bite. Light and healthy, yet exquisite- this was my favorite dish of the day! Crunch from the Curried Slaw, superb flavor provided by the Lamb, earthiness from the Spinach, Raita as a coolant and crisp Cilantro to bring it all together. Sounds like a dream team, in my book.
When ordering from somewhere we have not been before, I try to step out of my comfort zone a touch. During our visit to the Twisted Indian, this meant giving the Currito a whirl, which is a playful twist on a Burrito (I don't think I have ever ordered a Burrito, from anywhere, ever). The Currito is composed of Spinach, Basmati rice, Curried Slaw, Raita Yogurt Sauce, Cilantro & protein of choice, all rolled up into a 12 inch Flour Tortilla. Chicken Tikka Masala was our protein selection.
Yes, most all of the ingredients mimic the Bollywood Bowl, with the exception of the protein and Tortilla, but the flavor profiles were 100% unique. The makeup of the Chicken Tikka Masala was lovely- succulent and hearty, with minor bits of heat, and a delightful sweetness. I must add, too, that compared to other oversized burritos and sandwiches, this was not the least bit messy, and was quite easy to eat (something I often take into consideration).
Last, but never, ever least: the Fries! We ate every last bite of the Yogi Fries (which, we ordered plain)- they were lick-the-plate delicious. Cheese Fries on steroids, if you will. These crinkle-cut beauties are topped with Mozzarella, Tikka Masala Sauce, Curried Slaw, Raita Yogurt Sauce and Cilantro.
Unlike a lot of sad, sad Cheese Fries, these were in no way, shape, or form mushy and overdressed. Instead, there was crunch, fresh and zingy flavor, and just enough Cheese, Tikka Masala Sauce and Raita Sauce to not overwhelm the Fries.
Lokesh hopes to shed a more radiant light on Indian cuisine by allowing the food he prepares to appeal to all crowds. He says that often, Indian food is portrayed as being very spicy. While it can be spicy, he wants the vibrant flavors to shine through in the food he prepares, rather than heat.
For the most part, aside from the vegan specials at the Saturday Morning market, the menu remains the same. The Twisted Indian posts their weekly schedule on their Facebook page, "The Twisted Indian," at the beginning of every week. The majority of the time, you can find them locally in St. Pete.
An Indian Fusion Food Truck in St Petersburg FL, serving innovative yet traditional Indian food.