I have to admit I did not know that Fijian Indian cuisine was a thing. So I was intrigued when I came across Jini’s Fiji-Indian Food at the Main Street Promenade in Wailuku. Sarojini (Jini) Harris, the owner and chef, is a born and raised Fijian Indian and doesn’t shy away from talking about her unique heritage.
“The Indians came in the 1800s,” she told me. “Brought in to work on the sugar plantations. So now we have two and three generations of Indian people on Fiji. Fijian Indian food is a little different than what people normally think of Indian. What we do is more like homestyle cooking, the dishes you would make at home with your family.”
One of the first thing Harris points out that’s different is that she doesn’t do naan, but you won’t miss it because her fresh made roti bread is just as good. It’s like a flour tortilla-style unleavened bread, and Harris suggests using it as a wrap for your curry, rice and veggies, but I choose to dip mine in the sauces. She makes everything herself, and she can guide you even if you’re not familiar with the dishes or their flavors.
Curry plates come with rice, roti, salad and chutney and start at $8 for one choice and run to $12 for three. The plates are generous. I started with the eggplant curry and the lamb curry, and both were amazing. The lamb is rich and perfectly seasoned and prepared, truly a treat for an everyday lunch.
Harris opened Jini’s Curry a year ago as a new chapter in life. She was raised in Fiji, but lived in Oregon for some time with her late husband. Now she and her son live on Maui, and she says the weather is similar to Fiji–”it’s like summer all year round there, too.”
She loves sharing her Indian Food tradition, and often changes up the curries on her menu. You will find fish, shrimp, chicken, eggplant, potato and lamb. She also makes daal, a lentil soup that’s the lighter dish on the menu, and vegan samosas. You will find her staffing her curry booth at the Makawao and Kihei town parties, too, and she stays open on Saturday for Fijian curry fixes.
2050 Main St., Wailuku