Desi PDX

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Indian food cart portland

Desi PDX

Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 12-9pm; Sunday, 12-8pm

The Story: Local Fare, Indian Flair. Portland, welcome Desi PDX, Alberta’s newest Indian food cart.

Deepak Saxena opened the cart earlier this year with a focus on food inspired by Indian spices and flavors while keeping it local and organic and committing to everyone’s indulgences. At Desi PDX, you can get gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Raised on traditional Indian fare, Deepak eventually fell in love with cooking in this 20’s. After a first career in IT, the food cart became the next adventure. Inspired by Eric Schlosser’s work Fast Food Nation, he changed his own eating habits and continues to work at cooking more sustainably which is reflected with the menu at the cart.

Indian food cart portland

Cardamom chai Drumsticks

Let’s talk food. Deepak has both a la carte options or bowls. Every week he has a rotating “pulse of the week,” which is a selection of organic bean and lentil dhals. How does spicy cabbage salad with shredded coconut, chillies and mustard infused oil sound? Or maybe a Pakora waffle made with spicy garbanzo beans. I chose the cardamom chai chicken. One pound of Mary’s free range drumsticks are tea brined and tea steamed then fried in organic sunflower oil. A coconut sugar chai glaze is added then finished with toasted cardamom and Jacobsen salt. Whew! So many different flavors and ingredients go into creating this dynamic and vibrant chicken. I knew Indian cuisine’s diversity of flavors and spices, but these drumsticks were off the charts. I can only imagine what the other dishes present. I’m excited for a return visit, maybe with a friend so we can order multiple dishes and share.

Desi PDX offers up a diverse menu of treats for everyone and brings up specials almost daily, so follow them on Facebook for updates. Desi PDX is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Drop on by next time you’re up on Alberta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – full menu on website

  • Cardamom chai chicken – $7.25
  • Chana masala belly – tamarind-ginger braised carton farms pork belly – $7.50
  • Pulse of the week – $3.75-5.75
  • Belly Bowl – pork belly, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $10
  • Vegan thali – pulse & rice, slaw, chutney, pickles, salad – $11
  • Chicken bowl – chicken, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $9.75

Website: Desipdx.com
Facebook: Desi PDX
Twitter: @DesiPDX

Tiffin Asha

Lizzy Caston

Tiffin 1

Location: N Mississippi and Beech
Hours: Tues -Thurs 11am – 6pm, Fri & Sat 11am- 8pm

The Story: Get your fresh hot Dosas here! Indian street food at its finest, and for many Indian food lovers, Dosas are an almost religious experience. Made from dal lentils and rice ground to a fine powder, put into a batter and fermented, Dosas are one of India’s great street snacks – crispy along the edges, but tender.  Savory and satisfying without being too heavy throughout, they can be eaten plain or with spices, or alongside Sambar (a spicy lentil soup), or rolled up like a burrito and stuffed with all manner of curries. A perfect grab and go treat to eat with one’s hands as they require no utensils.

Tiffin Asha is a newer cart on NE Alberta street, tucked into a driveway next to a yoga studio and a vintage housewares shop. Look for the silver and red cart with the bright blue sign sporting an elephant.  With some cute but sparse decorations, and only three tables, this cart mirrors many humble street food stands in India. The folks involved know their food chops though: Elizabeth Golay, the owner of Tiffin Asha, has cooked at some of the best restaurants in Seattle, while her life partner’s family from the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh taught her their family recipes and techniques for this region’s highly sophisticated spice blends and food.

Although Tiffin Asha serves traditional Southern Indian food – Dosas, Idli (steamed rice cakes), and Vadas (think savory spiced donut holes), this isn’t a cart for strict purists. We think that’s a good thing. Sure you can get the classic simple combo of Dosa and Sambar (spicy lentil soup), or a potato curry stuffed Dosa. Yet, you’ll also find modern interpretations including the Hot Chick described as “pakora fried chicken drizzled with black cardamom-infused honey, pickled greens and creamy yogurt cheese.” Or, they have “Brunch Dosas” such as the smokey Shroom – “fried egg, local mushrooms, caramelized onions and Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue.” We simply say, WOW. If this is what fusion food can be then we’ll happily take it.

Tiffin Asha's Trilogy with Dosas, Idli, Vada, Sambar, Chutneys and Gunpowders

Tiffin Asha’s Trilogy with Dosas, Idli, Vada, Sambar, Chutneys and Gunpowders

Where Tiffin Asha shows they really care about quality is in their house-made chutney bar. Offered free alongside your order, you’ll find a clean row of cold  savory-and sometimes savory-spicy-sweet- sour chutneys such as green mango, coconut, cilantro, peanut, and their own Indian spiced ketchup.  Super fresh, flavorful, and a perfect accompaniment to the more “neutral” carbs of Dosa, Vada, and Idli. Tiffin Asha is also introducing Portland to the concept of “Gun Powders”, described as,

WHAT IS GUN POWDER?[guhn-pou-der], Noun1. An explosive mixture.2. Also called podi, a powder made up of various spices, chilies and lentils and eaten like chutney. Found in the southern region of India.

Gun Powders at Tiffin come in a little bag with directions on them, alongside a little cup of oil. You mix as much (or as little) of the spice mixture as you wish into the oil, and then dip away with your Dosa, Idli, or Vada. Flavors include BLACK – mild, black sesame, WHITE – medium, dals, and RED – hot, red chili + peanut. These mixtures show the sophistication and deft hand of any Southern Indian cook as they are easy to over do, under do, or just make imbalanced. Tiffin Makes them quite well indeed.

Tiffin Asha would make any Amma (Grandmother) in Southern India proud. This is a well thought out, well run cart, with high quality food, and a nice addition to Portland’s ever evolving and diversifying food scene.

Sample Menu:

DOSAS –  fermented dal and rice crepe brushed with neyyi (clarified butter)

  • PAPER – crispy plain dosa, served with sambar $5
  • HOT CHICK – pakora fried chicken drizzled with black cardamom-infused honey, pickled greens and creamy yogurt cheese $7
  • STUDLY SPUD – crispy cinnamon-spiked baby potatoes tossed with tomato chutney and green chili -$6

BRUNCH DOSAS served 11-2 daily

  • GUN POWDER – Fried egg dusted with your choice of gun powder $5
  • B.A.T. fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, baby arugula and oven roasted tomatoes $7
  • SMOKEY SHROOM – fried egg, local mushrooms, caramelized onions and Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue $7

VADA HOLES savory dal donut holes sprinkled with coconut-chili fleur de sel, served with sambar – SMALL 5 vadas $5. LARGE – 8 vadas $6

IDLI fermented dal and rice cake – 2 idli cakes, served with sambar $5

TIFFIN’S TRILOGY – one of each paper dosa, small vada and idli, served with sambar $8

SAMBAR – spicy dal soup made with seasonal vegetables tamarind + coconut $3

Note: Gunpowder Spices, Various Chutneys are Complimentary.

 

Phone: (503) 936-7663

Website: www.TiffinAsha.com

Facebook: TiffinAsha

Twitter: @TiffinAshaPDX

Chez Dodo

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Chez Dodo

Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: M-F, 11am-11pm; Sat, 11-9pm

The Story: A taste of Mauritian Paradise. That is all I needed to know before visiting Chez Dodo, a new vendor in the ever changing lot at the corner of N Fremont and Vancouver. Chez Dodo moved to SW 5th and Stark January 2014.

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles off the south east coast of Africa. When the Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s, the island was uninhabited except for the famed Dodo bird. After a few centuries of different colonial rule, the culture of the island in the 21st century is a mix of several ethnicities – mostly of Indian, African, Chinese and European descent. At Chez Dodo, the cuisine reflects the inspiration of French, African, Indian, Creole and Chinese cuisine.

Upon arrival, Chef Shayamal leaned out the window to greet me and immediately listed off the day’s specials and instructed me to the vast menu and how to order. You start with a base of either flat bread, noodles or rice, add a curry sauce and then top with accompaniments like bean curry and potatoes, chicken or lamb. I chose pan fried curry noodles with the Island Fever spicy curry sauce and lamb. During the prep of the meal, Shayamal leaned out with a huge skillet of noodles and a fork to ask if the spice was sufficient. What brilliant service. A huge plate of noodles with vegetables and lamb was handed over. More than I could eat in a sitting, but so flavorful, spicy and complex, I couldn’t put the fork down. If you’re going, go with a friend as Shayamal is a giver of food and will load you up.

Curry Noodles from Chez Dodo

You may recognize the name Chez Dodo as his vegan pre-made products have been in local stores now for over a year. Chef Shayamal offers numerous options for vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian diets. He stated, “If it weren’t for the vegans buying my product, I wouldn’t be open.” Thanks vegans! Chez Dodo is open from lunch through late night and on Saturday, so there is no reason you can’t visit. The lot now has five different mobile vendors and the are continues to change for the better with a New Seasons store opening this year. Drop on by for a taste of Mauritius and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Bases:

  • Dholl Puri Flat Bread; Pan Fried Curried Noodles; Brown Rice Pulao or Rice Noodles

Curry Sauces:

  • Healthy Vegan: mild curry sauce cooked with a blend of exotic spices and herbs
  • Tropical Happiness: creamy tomato based curry sauce cooked with spices, coconut and cashews
  • Island Fever: spicy curry sauce with 3 different peppers, onions, ginger, garlic, tamarind, lemon and vinegar

Accompaniments:

  • Assorted bean curry and potatoes – $4.99
  • Wild combo of mushrooms with lentil fritter – $5.99
  • Chicken cooked in red wine sauce – $5.99
  • Lamb Curry pressure cooked and sauteed – $7.99

Phone: (503) 284-4575
Facebook: Chez Dodo
Twitter: @ChezDodoPDX

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen – 5th Ave

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Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen – 5th ave

Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Weekdays, lunch

The Story: Tandoor’s has expanded again. This is their 3rd location with others at SW 4th and Hall and SW 9th and Washington. You can find our profile of them here.

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen

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Tandoor's Saffron Indian Kitchen

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen

Location: SW 4th and College
Hours: 11am–3pm Mon–Fri

The Story:

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen has expanded, opening a second location at the lot by Portland State University. You can find the same great Indian cuisine at the new location. Read Lizzy’s original post about this great Indian cart.

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