Tantalize Your Taste Buds at Monsoon India
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BY MICHELLE LEE
As the international food market continues to thrive in Hawaii, the world becomes smaller and smaller with thousands of different appetites intermingling on a daily basis.
Recently, a cluster of Indian restaurants by the name of Monsoon India, with its rich flavors and unbeatable service, has taken the Islands by storm.
Monsoon India first opened in Kihei, Maui, approximately three years ago. Shortly after, the restaurant expanded into the heart of Waikiki about one year before the chain’s third opening in Lahaina, Maui.
“As Indian cuisine rapidly gains favor in the Western world, we hope to expand even further,” says Monsoon India co-owner Imran Khan. “Our dishes are strong enough to warrant compliments from those traveling from major cities around the world and even India.”
The restaurant’s employees are all knowledgeable and skilled in the area of authentic Indian cooking.
“We are the only Indian restaurant in all of Hawaii that has a chef with more than 20 years’ experience who is actually from New Delhi in India,” says Khan. “Food and cooking have been an integral part of our culture since childhood, a passion that started by watching our own mothers cook for the family.”
Additionally, Monsoon India relies on fresh ingredients, innovative cooking techniques and careful attention to timing to ensure a delectable dining experience.
“We use all fresh produce from local farmers that is never frozen,” explains Khan. “Our most popular meat, lamb, also is never frozen and comes exclusively from New Zealand.”
Popular dishes include Lamb Boti Kebabs ($24.95). The kebabs as well as other meat dishes are cooked in a traditional, Indian-style clay oven, which sustains significantly hotter temperatures than a regular oven or grill.
“Using a clay pot puts us at a huge advantage, because the meat comes out so much more tender,” says Khan. “We marinate all food overnight so that the spices can dissolve completely into the meat and vegetables, allowing for better cooking.”
Another signature dish is Chicken Kadhai ($18.95), a savory symphony of tender chicken with sauteed onions, tomatoes and bell peppers. When it comes to spices, Monsoon India believes that less is more if applied carefully.
“Indian cooking is all about the timing and not just about the spices,” explains Khan. “Using fewer spices with accurate timing results in much better taste and quality of food.”
Vegetable dishes also are an important part of the menu, such as Baingan Bharta ($18.95), which incorporates roasted eggplant with spiced tomatoes and onions. Additionally, the restaurant features an impressive array of homemade desserts, such as Gulab Jamun ($5.95), a sweet confection of deep-fried doughnuts in a honey sauce.
Monsoon India is BYOB and carries no corkage fee. The staff encourages those who are interested to visit the downstairs liquor store, which sells an impressive variety of wines and beers, including various brands of Indian beer.
1778 Ala Moana Blvd, Suite 213
Open for lunch Wednesday–Sunday, noon to 2 p.m. and dinner daily, 5 to 10 p.m.