America's Food Truck Craze Parks On The Streets Of Kolkata : The Salt Kolkata now has its first food truck: Agdum Bagdum, which hawks Indian fusion food. It was inspired by American food trucks — which were originally inspired by street food in places like Kolkata.
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America's Food Truck Craze Parks On The Streets Of Kolkata

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America's Food Truck Craze Parks On The Streets Of Kolkata

America's Food Truck Craze Parks On The Streets Of Kolkata

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Commentator Sandip Roy spent years living in America before moving back to India. Still, Roy found leaving this country didn't mean he left behind all things American, like food trucks.

SANDIP ROY, BYLINE: True confession - I joined Twitter in order to follow a curry truck in the San Francisco Bay Area. There were plenty of Indian buffets out there, but Indian street food was hard to find. Back here in Kolkata, there's street food everywhere, and now the occasional American-style food truck. The first in Kolkata was Agdum Bagdum, named after a children's nursery rhyme in Bengali. I find it at a crazy intersection with honking rickshaws and screeching ambulances.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (Foreign language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: OK.

ROY: The house truck specialty is kabiraji. It's usually a cutlet deep-fried in egg, a sinfully beloved Kolkata favorite. Agdum Bagdum marries it with an American-style hamburger. Its creator, Dola Santra, and her husband, Babumani Sardar, are foodies who quit pharmaceutical jobs to become food truckers.

BABUMANI SARDAR: We are looking for the fusion. We wanted to introduce some new thing in the market, like Chinese, burrito wrap, Chimichanga, but infusion in Indian taste - not authentic.

ROY: They were inspired by America's food truck revolution. Babumani's brother-in-law sent him pictures from the states. A satisfied Agdum Bagdum customer, Mayank Agarwal, says it's about time.

MAYANK AGARWAL: Yeah, I think it's brilliant. And I think they'll do fantastically well, one because there is a huge gab between the hawker, on one side, and established places in a restaurant. There is nothing in the middle. You get hygienic food at almost - I will not say quite - but almost street food prices.

ROY: Hygienic matters because Kolkata's traditional street food, though delicious, is like playing Russian Roulette with your stomach. Not at the Agdum Bagdum food truck, says owner Dola Santra.

DOLA SANTRA: Our every food healthy and hygienic also.

ROY: Hygienic? Yes, they wear hairnets. There are trash bins, no smoking signs. But healthy? Hmmm. The kabiraji burger is deep, deep-fried. The Juicy Lucy burger is stuffed with cheese inside the patty.

SARDAR: When you eat this, you will have a great feeling. And you will taste the cheese coming out of the patty itself. So it is delicious and mouth-melting.

ROY: With the success of Agdum Bagdum, Dola and Babumani now have American-style dreams of a chain of food trucks all over Kolkata.

SARDAR: The plan is to bring one or two or more food trucks to cover whole Kolkata.

SANTRA: Thank you, sir. Enjoy your meal. Good night.

ROY: How could I not? With a big, fat, freshly fried kabiraji burger in me.

MONTAGNE: A bite of burger and slice of life in India, from commentator Sandip Roy. His novel, also set there, is called "Don't Let Him Know."

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