Taco truck seeks a second chance.

Getting close to your goal only to fall short is no fun. Michael Swaleh and his family advanced all the way to the finals of the Food Network’s most recent season of The Great Food Truck Race, in which the winning team got to keep the borrowed truck they’d been driving across the country, plus $50,000. In a heartbreaker, the local Tikka Tikka Taco truck came in second, losing in the finale.

The experience, Swaleh says, was nonetheless invaluable.

“The best part of it was that from Beverly Hills to Portland to Idaho to South Dakota to Annapolis to D.C., people really like our food,” he says. “We’ve made this food for our family and friends for years, but our idea was validated by our cross-country tour. People’s faces lit up wherever we went.”

Their food is a fun fusion of Indian/Pakistani cuisine with Mexican food. “Naanchos” comprise chicken made with the signature tikka spice, feta cheese, raita (an Indian yogurt-based condiment), fresh spinach, and cilantro on Indian naan flatbread. Tikka tacos are similar. Chicken wings are spiced with tikka sauce and thrown on the grill.

You may still be able to try these wild eats. TTT ran an Indiegogo campaign in an effort to raise $30,000, to match a $30,000 loan from an area nonprofit lender, the Justine Petersen company. At press time, the campaign had reached $11,000 in pledges.

“If we get the Indiegogo money, we can start the company without having to sell any ownership in it or take out more debt financing,” Swaleh says. “But either way, we plan on trying to make it happen. We hope to have the truck up and running by next spring.”

If the Tikka Tikka Taco truck does hit the streets, you won’t be able to miss it. Swaleh plans to paint it bright orange, the same color as the tikka spice.

Author Byron Kerman Photography by Kevin A. Roberts
Original Post: http://www.stlmag.com/St-Louis-Magazine/January-2014/Tikka-Tikka-Triumph/