Restaurant News & Reviews

Food Truck Review: Tan-Durm serves Indian with a global twist

Tan-Durm food truck serves Indian with a global twist

VIDEO : Tan-Durm co-owner B.J. Patel talks about the Indian food truck with a global twist
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VIDEO : Tan-Durm co-owner B.J. Patel talks about the Indian food truck with a global twist

“Can you come back in 20 minutes? The oven needs a little more time to heat up.”

The man at the Tan-Durm order window was referring to the tandoor, a clay oven that turns out the food truck’s specialty naan breads and other tasty tandoori-roasted tidbits. That’s the “Tan” in the mobile vendor’s name.

“Durm” is locals’ nickname for Durham, home base for the food truck that partners B.J. Patel and Nick Singh put on the road last year. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the “Indian food truck with a global twist” as its owners describe it, can usually be found parked next to Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub.

I caught up with Tan-Durm at Fortnight Brewing Co. in Cary, where the truck makes occasional appearances. And I’ll admit I may have been a bit overeager. I’d visited the truck once before and had gotten just enough of a taste to make me want an encore.

On that previous visit, I had planned on ordering the Chicken Naan’me, a playful riff on a Vietnamese banh mi that had been getting rave reviews on social media. Instead, I got lured away by a Cuban-Indian naan wrap, one of the truck’s frequent fusion specials. That sandwich, featuring roasted pork (I’m guessing a mojo marinade was involved), gave me no cause to regret my decision.

But the second time around, I was determined to stick with my plan to order the Chicken Naan’me. I brought along reinforcements to help explore more of the menu. I was especially eager to try whatever “global twist” was on offer. Maybe I’d get a second shot at Not Your Mama’s Egg Roll, a special I had passed up the first time around; or one of the past specials I’d seen on Tan-Durm’s Facebook – lamb curry pizza, say, or chicken keema empanadas.

Which explains why I was standing at the Tan-Durm window precisely when the Fortnight website had said they’d start serving – 5 p.m. on the dot – and why, 20 minutes later, I was back to place my order.

The Chicken Naan’me, generously filled with tandoori-roasted chicken tikka and sautéed peppers and onions, lived up to its reputation. Samosa chaat delivered the goods, too, in the form of two house-made vegetarian samosas buried under an avalanche of chickpeas in a fiery chili sauce and a crowning cap of tamarind chutney, yogurt and cilantro.

(Word to the wise: If you’re asked how spicy you’d like a dish prepared on a one-to-five scale, be advised that they’re not kidding when they describe a five as “Indian hot.” Proceed at your own risk.)

The Singh Thali served up two chicken dishes (tikka masala and the night’s special, chicken curry – both exemplary) with rice and naan. I upgraded the bread to bullet naan for an extra 50 cents, and was rewarded with hot, oven-blistered wedges riddled with a scattershot of sliced green Thai chiles.

The Scotch egg was on the money, too. That’s right, the night’s special was the British pub classic hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and deep-fried. Coming from a kitchen known for turning out bold fusion creations, it came as a bit of a curveball.

Turns out the Scotch egg is also something of a trial balloon in preparation for the opening of Viceroy, a restaurant that B.J. Patel is partnering with the owners of Bull McCabe’s to open this fall in downtown Durham. Patel describes the new venture as a British-Indian gastropub with a menu that melds the two cultures with the likes of chicken tikka pasties and curried shepherd’s pie. He’s hoping for a November opening – after which, he assures Tan-Durm fans, the truck will continue to live up to its motto: “Keep calm & curry on.”


Prices: naan wraps $8-$9, thali combination plates $10-$12


Twitter: @eatTANDURM

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