By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
Dropati Ryan has a vision.
As the proprietor of Prabha’s Indian Garden, Ryan seeks to provide Hilo-area vegetarians and vegans with flavorful Indian and Asian cuisine that supports a healthy lifestyle.
When she launched the restaurant just a few weeks ago, the overriding theme was simple, she said: “I want to make quality, healthy and fresh food.”
In addition to running the restaurant, she is the sole cook and makes everything from scratch, including her bread. And she uses only those ingredients she can find at the Hilo Farmers Market and area health food stores.
“Everything has to be organic,” she says.
“We don’t want this to be a heart-attack grill,” added her boyfriend and assistant, Dan Clark. “We’re trying to do something for the community and the environment.”
Clark added that the vegan lifestyle may not be for everybody, but the food certainly is.
“Vegan is just a choice to do something noble for the community,” he said. “We try to be nonviolent. Plus, it’s about resources and being efficient. To feed a cow, you can feed 20 humans. … But vegan food appeals to everyone. It can be for people who are trying to change what they eat. Or even people who like meat but are looking for something different.”
The restaurant uses no meat, fish, or eggs, and serves only food that is free of genetically modified organisms (GMO), pesticides, monosodium glutamate (MSG), or L-Cysteine.
“Some people are very particular,” Clark said, “and they don’t want to eat anything cooked in pans with those things. But we don’t use any of that.”
Clark and Ryan formerly worked together at the Down to Earth location in Hilo before its closure last year. That left Ryan open to try fulfilling her dream of running a vegetarian/vegan Indian food restaurant.
Originally from Sigatogo, Fiji, and a 20-year resident of Hilo, Ryan said Wednesday she has been cooking “all my life,” and specializes in the Southern Indian cuisine taught to her by her family, which hails from Chennai, India.
Prabha’s Garden features all-you-can-eat buffets for lunch and dinner that change from day to day, including dishes like tofu tikka masala, samosas, coconut curry vegetables, potato eggplant curry, garbanzo bean curry, spinach/tofu with coconut milk, Szechwan tofu with eggplant, carrot and cucumber salad, fresh tomato chutney, tamarind chutney, curried rices, dahl, and alu gobhi (cauliflower potato). The restaurant also serves an assortment of chais and herbal teas.
Lunch and dinner are served daily, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and from 5:30-8:30 p.m. On Saturdays, only dinner is served, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
The all-you-can-eat lunch costs $12.99, while dinner is $17.99. The restaurant also serves single plates of food for $5.99 at lunch and $6.99 at dinner.
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.