Nice Twist

An Indian-American family teases Tucson palates with insanely tasty food

The Twisted Tandoor stands out in a sea of food trucks. Bright yellow and orange, showcasing Indian spices on the side, it's like Holi—the Festival of Colors—in truck form. And the logo is a twisted Indian chakra in the colors of the Indian flag. Here you'll find traditional Indian dishes.

"Food has always been a part of our lives," says Mukhi Singh. "We are always cooking at home, entertaining friends."  Before the Twisted Tandoor, Mukhi and Roop Singh sold furniture. Then the housing market collapsed and they had to make the best of it. Mukhi worked the night shift at the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club, but as his sleep schedule became more unusual, Roop knew it was time to try something new. She started researching food trucks.

After months investigating food truck roundups, they took the plunge and bought a used Mac Tools truck that had served as a sign for a Mexican food restaurant. Instead of going with a cliché and naming their truck something like "Green Chutney," they decided to stay true to themselves. When Mukhi's suggestion to name it "Outsourced" was ultimately vetoed, the family agreed on the Twisted Tandoor.

The Singhs persuaded their family and neighbors to be guinea pigs. Their first food attempts tended toward Indian-American fusion. But then their daughter's friend remarked that if she was going out to eat Indian food, she wanted to get actual Indian food. That notion has stuck with the Singhs ever since. Mukhi said they've been told many times that "It's like traditional food in India."

More than anything, it was the balance in the food that really impressed. The tandoori chicken, for instance, had deep, warm spices counterbalanced with the bright, tart flavors of cilantro and citrus. The chicken was moist on the inside while boasting a nice char from the grill. Small details really stand out. The rice is cooked perfectly, the produce is fresh and the onion salad and green chutney that come with everything are insanely tasty.

And if meat isn't your type of fare, there's a great selection of vegan/vegetarian options to satisfy your cravings. One of our favorite dishes is chana masala. Far too often, chickpeas are cooked to mush. The Twisted Tandoor's chana masala has fresh chickpeas that melt in your mouth. They're like little buttery morsels covered in a rich, spicy tomato sauce full of umami goodness.

The Twisted Tandoor is thorough when it comes to addressing food allergies. The Singhs keep the menu simple and versatile to avoid cross-contamination. A lot of their food is already gluten-free and/or vegan. Yogurt-based dishes may have tomatoes instead. They use olive oil rather than butter, and they never use flour to thicken a sauce. Dishes can be made vegan simply by asking that they not include cheese. And the Singhs don't use nuts in their cooking unless it's for a special dish, which they will announce on their menu.

The Singhs love it when people come up to them and say they haven't tried Indian food before. They've converted many meat-and-potatoes lovers. "That's what keeps us coming back every time," Mukhi says.

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