A professor of international affairs at Harvard Extension School,Tom Nichols’ most recent tweet, “Indian food is terrible and we pretend it is not,” has raised a storm and gone viral with Indians worldwide roasting him over flaks in funny, witty and sarcastic retweets. Even, Padma Lakshmi, an Indian-origin American cookbook writer and the celebrity host of Top Chef in the US, retaliated in her response to Tom Nichols, saying, “Do you not have Taste buds?” Indian Eagle, a most trusted travel booking partner of Indians in USA, advised Tom Nicholas to fly Air India and taste a spoonful of curd rice on board.
Not only is Indian food among the best in the world, but also it sells like hotcakes in the United States. Passion for cooking and serving Indian food has made the likes of freedom fighter Rash Behari Bose famous in the global culinary history and has made it to a lucrative business for the likes of Mumbai’s ‘Bhel Queen’ Nila Mehta. An Indian-origin Microsoft techie in Redmond, Seattle could not resist her passion of dealing in Indian food over her pursuit of American Dreams.
During her 14-year-long, illustrious career at the Redmond campus of Microsoft, Shama Joshi had been nurturing a dream of tossing green chillies on a heated pan, rolling out flatbread and serving fresh kathi rolls to a beeline of foodies. Bidding goodbye to her well-paying tech job, she bought a food truck with some of her savings, collaborated with one of her college friends, and ventured into a brand new world of passion – which many others won’t dare risking.
On her very first day of walking the road less traveled, Shama Joshi parked her Roll OK Please food truck just outside the Microsoft campus and took her colleagues aback with her cooking talent that most of them were unaware of. Then she took her baby for a stroll around Seattle and the Eastside.
As her father’s job in the Indian Army required them to move from one place to the other, her exposure to the diversity of Indian food culture nourished her culinary passion. The college friend who she roped in as a business partner belongs to Mumbai, home to food from different parts of the country. With the launch of her Roll OK Please food truck, Shama Joshi was also looking to represent the “ridiculous diversity” of Indian food in the United States’ culinary landscape where most cuisines of India are underrepresented.
Shama Joshi’s culinary passion manifested itself in her art of cooking healthful dishes, using freshly grounded spices, and employing the techniques she learned from her mother. Thus, she turned over a new leaf from a home cook to a professional. She would make cheese on her own. However, the transition was full of challenges as it required her to comply with the state health department’s regulations for food truck business and do lots of paperwork for necessary permits. At times, loading and unloading propane tanks needed extra manual strength.
Over time, the Roll OK Please food truck began to be identified with Kathi Rolls – grilled and rolled flatbreads coated with beaten eggs, stuffed with various fillings ranging from spiced potato fries to spicy meat, and served with green chili sauce or mint chutney. Shama Joshi’s food truck became the first-ever Indian landmark in Seattle for its highly palatable specialty – Kathi Rolls.
Chicken Tikka Masala and Karahi Gosht were also popular with her Indian and non-Indian customers until she put the Roll OK Please food truck on sale. Currently, she is eyeing a bigger and more independent venture in the Seattle food community. She is a guest chef in several cooking schools.
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