2 Food Trucks Plus a Push Cart Equals Good Food

I worked an event at NYU Saturday where all the food was provided by 2 food trucks and a push cart.  Talk about comfort food, this was an amazing assortment of good stuff at basement prices.

A few years ago the popularity of food trucks and street corner push carts really started to take off.  No longer was the corner vendor limited to hot dogs and salted pretzels.  These vendors became the new providers of quality quick lunches and super fast meal pickups.

Most of these vendors specialized in one type of food, offer great sides and for a few bucks you’re good to go.  How can you go wrong.

Saturday’s vendors provided Dumplings by Rickshaw Dumplings, Empanadas by Nuchas and Indian Veggie food (Dosa), wonderfully crafted by cart vendor NY Dosas.  These three street vendors kept me in specialty food heaven for the entire day.  So great where their offerings that I had to come home and figure out exactly how I could emulate their food in my kitchen.

I immediately took to the internet to see if they offered recipes online.  How stupid, of course they didn’t.  I did find their information and will share their websites and twitter pages below.  Here is a little info and some recipes for you to try and emulate their style.

Empanadas by Nuchas (Click Here):  The Nuchas concept is according to their website, “inspired hand- held foods.  Nuchas takes the traditional Latin American food to new heights.  Fresh baked around the clock, Nuchos is a creative, convenient and delicious alternative cuisine.”

Feliz 18...!!!

Recipe:  Nuchas had more Empanadas than I can remember, right down to a Empanadas that included Nutelle (click above for their site).  Here’s a cool recipe I found online from the Food Network site for making your own Empanadas.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef steak
1/4 pound fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 package store-bought pie crust or your favorite pie crust recipe
1 egg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.In a medium-sized skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the beef, chorizo, onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly so that the ingredients are well blended. Add additional cumin, if desired, and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
Set aside and let the filling cool.Roll out the pie crust dough and cut out rounds using a 3-inch cutter. Put 1 tablespoon of filling on half of the round. Fold the other half of the round over and using a fork, press down on the edge of the dough making sure it is sealed all the way around. This forms the empanada.
Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash. Arrange the empanadas on a nonstick sheet pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the empanadas to a serving platter and serve.
Rickshaw Dumplings (Click Here):  In addition to their Food Truck, Rickshaw Dumplings doubles as a Bar/Restaurant in other locations across New York City.  They have a pretty simple approach to food, “Do one thing and do it well.”  
I treated myself to six pieces of the Chicken and Thai Basil Dumplings with Spicy Peanut Sate Dip.  A co-worker came by and asked for a taste and I when right into my selective hearing thing as I didn’t want to share.
They offer up eight different varieties in their dumpling bar but only three were available on the truck.Simular to a ravioli or even an empanada, Rickshaw Dumplings are made with the finest ingredients you would expect to see in a fancy restaurant and not a food truck.  I really loved their dumplings.  Below is one of their recipes I discovered on at www.thekitchn.com.
Maroussia's Dumplings - Babka AUD15
Rickshaw Dumplings Adapted from Kenny Lao makes about 80 dumplings, depending on wrappers used
1/2 head of Napa cabbage
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound fresh ground turkey or other ground meat
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 packets round dumpling wrappers (most brands have 30-45 wrappers per package)
vegetable oil for fryingFor the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
Cut the cabbage crosswise into thin strips. Toss in a large bowl with salt in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Take handfuls and wring out the moisture. Dump out any remaining water in the bowl. Combine the cabbage with the turkey, scallion, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, pepper and eggs. Mix well with a large spoon or, preferably, your clean hands.Set yourself up in a spacious work area with the dumpling wrappers, a little bowl of water and a large cutting board or cookie sheet.
Grab a helper or two. Lay out a dozen or so dumpling wrappers. Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip your fingertip in the water and trace the outside edge of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper over to make a half circle and make a pleat at the top of the curve. Pinch in the sides then lift up the edges to meet the center, creating a pouch. Pinch the top together and bend out the sides slightly to curve.Heat a skillet over high until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil (a little less if using a non-stick pan) and coat the sides. Place enough dumplings in a single layer to line the pan, then stand back and carefully pour in a 1/2 cup of water (enough to immerse the dumplings by 1/2-inch.) Cover and cook until the water is absorbed.Holding the pan with a hot pad, place a large plate or platter as a cover on the pan and invert. Scrape the dumpling out with a spatula (careful of non-stick surfaces.)Repeat with the remaining dumplings.To make the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Serve dumplings hot with the dipping sauce.

NY Dosas ( Get the Full Story Here) https://twitter.com/nydosas‎ : Thiru Kumar the owner of the Dosas food cart has been selling his Vegan food on the streets around NYU for over 10 years now.  He was quick to tell how much of a legend he is in the area and I immediately found out that he was not joking.  Lines formed quickly around his cart and he handled each and every order like a seasoned vet.

Here’s what newyork.seriouseats.com had to say about Thiru.  “Perhaps the secret behind N.Y. Dosa’s long-standing success is all the hype, aided and abetted by Thiru himself. An incredibly animated Sri Lanka native with a ‘stache to rival Tom Selleck’s, Thiru hardly needs to be prompted when it comes to talking up his cart.

“I have fans all over the world–over 42 countries. There are fan clubs in California, in Japan. … Normally you would see all these articles up in different languages–all these reviews.” Not that Thiru is the only one to speak highly of N.Y. Dosas: the cart won the Vendy Award in 2007, and a quick Internet crawl reveals countless sparkling reviews from customers and critics alike.”

20100824-utthapam-2.pngLike I mentioned above the food is 100% vegan and is made by incorporating veggies into a pancake type of crepe.  Many are made with lentils, potatoes or rice.  The taste just won me over and I wish I had the stomach space to try them all.

Thiru himself is a bit of a character and when I asked for the recipe he just smiled and said “I’m sorry, no Mr. Mike.”  I searched the web for the best Dosas recipe and found this is not an easy dish to prepare.  So believing a picture is worth a thousand words, check out the YouTube video below.

My wife works in mid town Manhattan and is always raving about the food carts and specialty food trucks.  I now understand what she’s talking about.  After sampling these three gems, I can’t wait to get back into the NYC for a taste of good city street food.




photos by: mabel flores & avlxyz

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