Spice truck’s curry in a hurry

Sophie Stephens in front of the brightly-sided Taj MaTruck. 165308_01 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

It’s a tough ask to stand out from the sheer convoy of food trucks that seem to be parked at every event and festival.
With food trucks all the rage, the Berwick-based Taj MaTruck has a few stunning points of difference.
First, there’s a customised clay tandoor oven – that heats up to 300C – inside the truck’s swanky, fully-kitted kitchen.
Within its confines, the truck’s two chefs have all they need to create a long menu of authentic Indian and Malaysian food – including thick, fresh cubes of tandoori chicken, spicy paneers, kormas and tikkas as well as butter chicken, nasi goreng, beef rendang and biryani rice dishes.
Its festival menu is more focused on easy-to-hold takeaways such as chicken sliders, spring rolls, samosas, naan and masala-laced fries – while the catering menu offers a vast range of dishes.
After running a successful child-care centre, Taj MaTruck’s co-founder Sophie Stephens has just gained her truck licence.
She said she wanted to start a business a “step above everyone else” in the crowded food truck market.
The food truck is cheap to hire for catering, epitomises “free enterprise”, riding on a wave of popularity that started in New York and is convenient.
“All you need is yourself. You can cook for it and run it all on your own,” Ms Stephens said.
Once the food truck passes health checks with the local council, it is free to roam and do business throughout Australia.
Ms Stephens also wanted a vehicle to raise money to help the charity Indian Rescue Mission (IRM) – which she encountered on a holiday in India.
It has saved, and then housed and educated hundreds of children snatched by human traffickers in India and Thailand.
Ms Stephens’ commitment grew from visiting an IRM orphanage and finding out more about the daring men who rescue children from brothels and child-labour.
In some cases, parents are persuaded by local priests to give over their children as a “sacrifice”, and in turn they are exploited.
Taj MaTruck has pledged 30 per cent of its profits to IRM.
“We really want to partner and support this, and help provide resources they need,” Ms Stephens said.