The symphony of flavor in Indian masalas (spice blends) makes our eyes water and our tastebuds intone “namaste.” Sweet and pungent cardamom, nutty and citrusy coriander, earthy and warm cumin… you must surrender your tastebuds completely to get just how special they are. Monsoon India’s masalas are timid for our taste (is it the condo location?), which is why we were grateful, when on our first trip, Hari gently suggested we order everything “hot.” We suggest you do the same if you’re hoping to clear your sinuses.
The menu is simple, well organized and explains Indian cuisine so well that even the most cautious diners can feel confident.
Our personal favorites include the masala curry—sprightly tomatoes and velvety cream blended with herbs and spices—which is delicious with either their tandoor oven-roasted chicken or the “pillowy” shrimp. We also like the saag, finely chopped spinach with cream and spices, with tender lamb. The samosas (dumplings with meat or veggie fillings) are perfectly crispy on the outside and moist inside. The mango chutney is just spicy enough and we could eat it with a spoon.
We would like to spend three paragraphs on the naan (but we won’t). On an island where most bread is fair to middling, eating this fluffy-crispy Indian flatbread is heaven.
Every visit finds the rice pudding creamier and more nurturing with its hint of cardamom, and the mango lassi—a traditional yogurt drink—is tangy, mellow, and sweet.
Despite the urgency in a name like Monsoon India, the kitchen tends to be slow (don’t come with low blood sugar and order samosas immediately). The servers are sweet—sometimes overwhelmed—but usually open your BYOB wine or beer without being prompted. The open-air restaurant is so breezy our napkins blow away, which is too bad because the view of the West Maui Mountains makes us drool. Their budget (or building permit) must not allow for good lighting at night—but stop! The bottom line is this: The food and the smile on Hari’s face render our complaints nitpicky.
This is lovely food served by lovely people in full sight of one of the loveliest views on the island.
Monsoon India, Menehune Shores, 760 S. Kīhei Road, Kīhei. Lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch. 875-6666