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October 22, 2009
By CARLA TRACY, Dining Editor
INSPIRING INDIA . . . Diners are doing yoga pretzels, they are so transcendent that two new Indian restaurants have opened in Kihei and the foods are flavorful, aromatic and authentic. “Try our curries and forget your worries” is the mantra of the casual Maui Masala, featuring a hot buffet bar for fast lunch and dinner service from its location in the former Miss Kitty’s at Dolphin Plaza. You may take out or enjoy shady lanai seating outside. “I’ve never opened a restaurant before,” says licensed Maui engineer Hari Ajmani, whose wife, Madhu Ajmani, inspired the chef with her recipes. The couple have lived on island for 16 years. Madhu hails from Dehradun, India, famous for its basmati rice, lychees and mangoes in the foothills of the Himalayas. Hari is from the Punjab region and later Bhopal. Combo plates are served with basmati rice and/or naan (bread baked in a cylindrical clay tandoor oven) and a choice of one, two or three hot entrees. Sip a refreshing mango lassi with yogurt to cool off the fiery chicken and potato vindaloo. Or opt for more mild palak paneer (velvety spinach with house-made cheese cubes) and dal of the day. The Ajmanis’ partners in the business are Neil Patel and his wife, Kavita Khanu Patel. Maui Masala is closed on Tuesdays. The sit-down Monsoon India took Maui by storm when it opened Sept. 15 in the former Shangri-La By the Sea spot at Menehunu Shores. You may BYOB at this oceanfront and exotic restaurant that features everything from lamb and shrimp kebabs grilled in the tandoor to deep-fried samosa turnovers filled with peas and potatoes, or minced turkey and peas, if you so desire. Savor all manner of tandoori breads, including garlic and cheese naan, aloo paratha, roti and leavened onion kulcha with mild spices. “Our most popular dishes are curries such as koorma and masala,” says partner and general manager, Hari Reddy. “And, of course, our Monsoon kebabs with an assortment of lamb, chicken, beef and prawns.” Monsoon India’s majority partner is Pramod Chandra Pradhan. Besides enjoying lunch and dinner, those in Kihei may get delivery. The restaurant also features a Sunday brunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Choose from veggie to meat versions. ***** BITS AND PIECES . . . Another new restaurant is targeted for a soft opening Monday in The Shops at Wailea. “Kai Wailea is a very cool concept,” says the shops’ General Manager Bob Dye. “Their Asian tapas business is going to be hot. You can pick and choose.” Chef and general manager is Manabu Katsuyama. He says through floor manager and interpreter, Mark Stockwell, the owners run two other restaurants on Oahu, Kaiwa and Hale, the latter macrobiotic; and four other establishments in Japan. Sushi and maybe a little macrobiotic cuisine along with robata-yaki — foods such as rib-eye grilled on charcoal — will be featured. Mana Foods in Paia will celebrate 25 years in business starting Monday. The weeklong event features giveaways for those who purchase $250 or more. “Get your free bag of schwag,” is the theme. Java jivers will want to sample some of the island’s finest brews at the third anniversary celebration of MauiGrown Coffee Company Store in Lahaina. The three-day party starts today with discounts galore. Taste the new Ghoul’s Brew, just in time for Halloween. Speaking of Halloween, See’s Candies at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center in Kahului will kick off the season with National Chocolate Day Wednesday. You’ll find bite-sized and individually wrapped orange twists, black-cat lollypop boxes and Jack O’Lanterns. All are perfect for trick or treaters or as hostess gifts. * You may reach Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342.

Article Photos

The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Chef Alton Baldonado of new Maui Masala Indian restaurant at Dolphin Plaza in Kihei pulls marinated chicken from the tandoor oven.



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