In Dining

Manminder Sethi is the owner of Punjabi Accent, Milwaukee's first Indian food truck.

Punjabi Accent, Milwaukee's first Indian food truck, rolls out today

Beginning today, Milwaukee will have its first Indian food truck. Punjabi Accent will serve a truck-side buffet of offerings from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. at the U.S. Bank building and from 1 to 3 p.m. in front of Johnson Controls.

The new food truck is owned by Manminder (Manny) Sethi, a former dentist from Botinda, India, where he practiced dentistry for 22 years.

Sethi came to Milwaukee about six years ago to continue his education in dentistry at Marquette University. However, by 2011, he had developed issues with mobility in his shoulder, causing him to make the decision to give up dentistry in favor of a career in bio-research.

"It was not my cup of tea," Sethi notes. "I wanted to see the city, so I started driving an Uber Black. It was a great way to see different parts of Milwaukee. And I met a lot of interesting people. I also found that I had many misconceptions about Milwaukee and Indian culture. And the conclusion I drew, after two years of driving, is that all people are the same. We all behave the same."

Sethi, who notes he's always loved cooking, says he also drew another conclusion. "Everyone loves wholesome food," he says, "And that is what I'll be focusing on. It's food that's nourishing and cost effective. And it's tasty."

Punjabi Accent will feature a variety of Punjabi style dishes including chicken tikka masala, chicken curry, butter chicken, lamb curry, urad dal (black lentils), chana masala, spinach and paneer, and a fresh vegetable dish. Accompaniments will include Basmati rice and na'an bread made in a clay oven on the truck. Beverages, including a mango lassi and chai, will also be available.

"My curries are simple, not spicy," notes Sethi. "They're made with tomatoes, garlic and ginger along with aromatics like cloves, cardamom, cumin and garam masala. This is the food like my mother cooked ... the true Punjabi style."

During lunch, Sethi says he'll offer a truck-side buffet. For $8, customers can fill the box with any of his current lunch offerings. During dinner, he'll offer a variety of a la carte dishes at about $8 each including malai kofte, tandoori chicken and additional dishes featuring chicken and lamb. Sethi says he's also considering offerings for the late night crowd on Friday and Saturday evenings after 10 p.m., including Indian-style wraps made from paratha with various fillings.

Sethi says he plans to maintain the truck year-round. He'll also explore ways to use delivery services and offer pick-up for call-in orders at the truck. Ultimately, he says he'd like to expand the business to create a fleet of Punjabi Accent trucks.

"I am a man of meager means," he says. "But I'm dreaming big."

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