I’m a total sucker for anything exotic. That’s probably why I adore Indian food so much. Actually, I’m enamored by just about everything India—the birthplace of yoga and home of the Taj Mahal. But mostly I’m into the edible stuff. So when I found out about the new Indian restaurant in Kihei, I rejoiced. And then I went to lunch. My coworker Wendy and her husband Pietro met me there and we bonded over our passion for paneer.
Our eyes bulged when we saw all the menu options, so we started slow with a couple of masala iced teas—a light chai spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, blended with milk and served over ice. Rakesh Sethi, the restaurant’s owner, came over to guide us through the menu, helping us select a variety of traditional Northern Indian dishes.
First came the vegetable samosas: crispy, fried pastry dough stuffed with a heavenly blend of curry-spiced potatoes and peas. They were huge. At least twice as big as the largest samosa I’d ever seen up to this point. They came with cool mint chutney and sweet tamarind sauce, which perfectly balanced out the spices in the stuffing.
We ordered two lunch entrees—chicken tikka masala and lamb saag—which come accompanied with a fragrant basmati rice dotted with saffron and a fresh garden salad. The chicken was tender, boneless and drowning in a beautifully creamy tomato sauce that was just a tiny bit spicy. The lamb was delicious and came drenched in a thick curried spinach sauce that had incredible depth of flavor.
And then there was the naan. This soft, puffy leavened bread comes hot out of traditional clay oven (tandoor) that Sethi had imported from India. Shangri-La serves their naan plain, stuffed with cheese or topped with garlic or spiced onions. We ordered garlic naan, which was buttery, flaky and perfect for sopping up the leftover masala sauce.
Dinner entrees are served up family style; they’re large enough to split several ways.
The full menu includes a selection of biryanis, which are dishes made with Indian basmati rice cooked in thick curry sauce with fruit, nuts and a choice of chicken, lamb, shrimp or veggies. There’s also a healthy assortment of seafood and vegetarian entrees, many of which star the restaurant’s homemade paneer cheese, fresh sautéed vegetables and masala or curry sauces.
The menu boasts a medley of tandoori grill dishes, including salmon kebabs marinated in freshly ground Indian herbs, tender chicken tikka marinated in yogurt and tandoori rack of lamb, subtly flavored with garlic, ginger and spices.
The delicious flavors run all the way to dessert, which includes a variety of kulfi—homemade Indian ice cream flavored with mango, pistachio or cardamom—and a spiced rice pudding called kheer badam. Most exotic-sounding of all, there’s the gulab jamun: deep fried cheese, dipped in sugar and honey and served with rosewater syrup.
I can’t wait to try it all. MTW