Da Portable Rican
Homestyle Authentic Puerto Rican CUisine
Our Food truck all began as a little shaved ice business several years ago. As our great-grandmother aged, we realized that the best way to honor her and the other wonderful generations before her on all sides of our family line, was to give their recipes and time-honored traditions life by sharing and continuing their legacies thru-out our generation and those to come.
How? Well, the shaved ice truck would need to be
re-birthed into something else we could accomplish this vision with... thus, "Da Portable Rican"! A food truck with Puerto Rican food? In INDIANA? Sure! Why not?
So, we decided to test our cultural favorites with the public and let the public decide if our cuisine fared well and favorable. Well, it did! You all made that possible. Now we are so honored and proud to be able to continue to share our legacy with all of our wonderful patrons and fans not just on the truck but in our restaurant as well.
Let us share a bit about how we came to be...
For years, as we grew up, we were exposed to the wonderful, mouth-watering, tantalizing aromas of the delicious foods our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used in their typical Puerto Rican cooking at home. Arroz con gandules, habichuelas guisadas, pollo guisado, lechon asado, alcapurrias... you name it, they made it, we ate it!! A variety of select herbs and spices, such as recao and cilantro, combined with the natural and delicious ingredients of our island, is what gave and continues to give our dishes its signature taste.
Our traditional Puerto Rican food dates back to the days of our Taíno ancestors. The Tainos were the native Amerindians encountered on the island back in 1493 when Puerto Rico was discovered. Their distinct cooking methods and tools continue to contribute greatly to how our food is cooked and prepared today. Methods such as the slow cooked "lechon a la varita" (pork on the stick) and the “pilón” (mortar and pestle) used to grind up root vegetable and spices which they used to create the large array of dishes we continue to prepare today.
Puerto Rico, which in English translates to “rich port”, was an island found to be rich in many natural resources. As a result, it attracted many immigrants from many other regions such as Spain, Africa, France, Italy, China and many more. With the arrival and melding of all these different cultures, the addition of new cooking ingredients was introduced and integrated to the island staples and our long treasured island recipes took on a new flavor profile which has remained distinctive to our cuisine to date. Things such as cilantro, recao, garlic, olives and the well-known “bacalao” (codfish). Islanders began to create dishes from other staples as well, such as coconuts and plantains, which are a huge part of our gastronomic culinary history to date.
Our story dates back to the early 1900’s and continues thru the 1920’s when our great-grandmothers were beginning their lives. Conditions were poor and many older children were not able to continue thru schooling so that they could stay home and help their parents raise younger siblings. Meals were cooked with what you had and however you knew how. Ingredients from their gardens were traded with other items from their neighbors' gardens and put together masterfully. Thus, our time treasured recipes got their delicious start. Having dishes was a luxury so families ate on and cooked with whatever they had on hand. Bowls were often made from coconut shells and hollowed out gourds. Plates and china were often mismatched and cups were mostly tin. Stoves were a luxury so most of the cooking was done over a fabricated pitlike stove made from cinderblocks.
2556 Portage Mall, Portage, IN
In our family, the recipes just seemed to get better and better as each generation added their special touch. We can remember how our great-grandmother Apita, who is 91 and still living today, had a special knack for re-purposing left over rice and beans into a wonderful concoction called “arroz mamposteao”. She would take left over rice and mix it all up with beans, add a little lard and fry it up in a skillet. It was so good, you could eat it all by itself. Another favorite was “yanicletas” with beans. Small dough balls of flour, water and lard which were deep fried and gobbled up with beans… Oh man, nothing better!! And we cannot forget the balled up "pegao" (crunchy rice that is stuck to the bottom of the pot)! A true Puerto Rican favorite. Yum!
Another one of our great-grandmothers cooked the most amazing pasteles. These were made from root vegetables, ground up into a batter and stuffed with meat. Then they wrapped them up in banana leaves and cooked them in a pot of boiling water. Today, it remains one of the islander favorites, especially at Christmas time.
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Our great-grandfather was great a making desserts, although great-grandma Milla had the budin (coconut bread pudding made from day old scrap bread) down pat to a science. He made the most delicious “mantecaditos” (also known as “polvorones”), which he passed down to our grandmother, and a brioche type bread that was out of this planet good.
Our goal here is to keep these time-honored recipes, cooking styles and favorites of our culture and heritage alive.
WE look forward to sharing our family culinary history with all of our future generations and with you.