A Native American Walks into an Indian Restaurant…….
I LOVE Indian food. The curry, the tikka, the biryani, the butter chicken, the naan, the vindalu, the gulab jamun,…. so when my husband and I moved from Seattle to Hilo in early 2018, I was saddened to think I could no longer walk down to my local Indian restaurant to enjoy their lunch buffets or have my other favorite restaurant deliver deliciousness to my office. Imagine my delight when a co-worker told me about one of his favorite restaurants in Hilo: Kamana Kitchen.
I decided to try this Indian food place for lunch one day. I went in and saw their lunch specials sheet, but wanted to really delve into the heart of the menu. I ordered the tandoori chicken (medium hot) with naan and a side of papadum. The minute it hit my mouth, I was crying with joy (and a little pain- turns out medium hot here is a little hotter than I’d expected). I walked out full and so very happy. Today, I went back- just to see if it was really that good. Spoiler alert: it was.
Today I went with the lunch special (Thali). My selection was the chicken tikka masala. Also in my metal lunchbox of glory were yellow dal, daily curry veg, achar, basmati rice, “salad” (only in quotes because the two pieces of lettuce and cucumber and one slice of carrot made me giggle), and half a naan. I also ordered the papadum, because, papadum. Again, I was not disappointed. If I hadn’t been in a very busy and crowded restaurant, I would have literally licked the tikka masala compartment until I could see my reflection. And the mint chutney that comes with the papadum will haunt my dreams until I figure out how to make it.
In reading reviews of Kamana Kitchen and their great Indian food posted on various websites, I have to disagree with those who docked the service. It was very busy today- I got my food in a timely manner, and I was not made to feel like I needed to hurry even though I was one person sitting at a booth that could have seated 4. The staff was very warm and welcoming, and when I asked what was in the mint chutney, although the secret recipe was not divulged, I was sent home with two small takeaway containers of it to enjoy (and deconstruct?) later.
Kamana, which the owner says means a prayer for another person, was certainly answered for me at lunch today. I will certainly go back! Everything was swadisht! (that means ono in Hindi)
Lisa Atkinson is the owner of Paradise Hand Pies which is one of our proud Big Island Pulse partners.
Long-time foodie and gourmet home cook Lisa Atkinson created Paradise Hand Pies, LLC (…and Catering) to bring the art of the savory and sweet hand pie to Hawai’i.
She started cooking when she was eight years old. It wasn’t until after she lived in France for a year that she began to educate and expand her palate and learn to appreciate local food culture, including her own Native culture.
She’s traveled to the far corners of the world searching for the perfect hand pie ingredients. She’s cooked elk, duck, and buffalo from Oregon; sampled numerous varieties of pork in Sardinia; tasted red deer with gravy, and whitebait sandwiches in New Zealand; shared community favorites of musk ox, moose, Eider duck, halibut, and crab in remote villages in Alaska; and downed local meat delicacies in Ireland and Scotland.
Transplanted from the rainy Pacific Northwest to sunny Hawai’i Island, she’s decided that there is no time like the present to embark on a new adventure to blend her passion for food with her love of sharing that food with her new community. Blending Island favorites with a global perspective, the results are delicious.