Amol Dixit just wants people to eat good Indian food.
But how do you make an unfamiliar cuisine enticing to those who don't regularly mess with chickpeas and chutney? The formula, when his bright-orange Hot Indian Foods truck first hit streets in 2013, was a simple one: real Indian recipes, familiar formats. Take chana masala and yogurt-marinated meats, throw 'em in a burrito or a taco with rice and seared paneer, and suddenly a once-intimidating dish is as comfortable as a casserole.
The approachable menu has worked; Hot Indian has since opened inside Midtown Global Market and introduced stalls at Target Field and the State Fair. And Dixit isn't finished yet. He’s setting his sights even higher -- literally, as Hot Indian readies to set up shop in the skyway.
Hot Indian’s downtown iteration will be a lunch concept, and while the menu isn’t finalized yet, the skyway set can expect it’ll be very much in line with what Hot Indian does best: grabbable, scarfable "Indurritos," tacos, and bowls, plus those crispy, battered Indi Frites. “We know there’s gonna be enough challenges and unknowns just opening up in the skyway,” Dixit notes. “We’re gonna start out, at least, with the food we know how to make.”
From there, he'll be figuring out what resonates with the skyway crowd -- is it easily portable plates? Grab-and-go dinner options? Something else entirely?
All in all, Dixit’s excited for HI to become part of the skyway's blossoming local food scene, joining other emerging eateries like Naf Naf -- which brought fast-casual falafel to a storefront just around the corner earlier this year -- in making the area a destination rather than just a place to eat because it’s too damn cold to go outside.
He's mostly hopeful that downtown diners are willing take a chance on Hot Indian's cuisine-crossing eats. Sure, it’s swaddled in roti and not a tortilla, and yes, sometimes people unfamiliar with the fare get a bit of a glazed-over look when they scan the menu and see aloo gobi. But even if they don’t necessarily understand what’s inside that burrito, “At the end of the day, it’s a burrito,” Dixit chuckles. “By reducing that barrier, we’re hoping we can get more people to try Indian food -- and then, fall in love with it.”
Expect a winter debut in the 121 S. Eighth St. building for Hot Indian’s latest, which will be open during lunch (no exact hours yet) from Monday through Friday.
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