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Michelin-Starred Chef Will Helm Midtown Indian Eatery MaskaEXPAND
Courtesy of Maska

Michelin-Starred Chef Will Helm Midtown Indian Eatery Maska

Indian food will get a new Miami home in Midtown with the opening of Maska, a new concept with an extensive menu and beverage list.

The restaurant is the work of Miami-based real estate developer Shamsu Lalani and his partner Pravin Mascarenhas, who operated restaurants in New York for seven years. At first, the duo scoured areas in Palm Beach for a joint venture. Their choice of the Midtown Miami location, a space previously occupied by Brasserie Azur, was based on that area's need for food diversity.

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Translated from Hindi, Maska means butter — though as Mascarenhas explains it, the word can have a more sensual ring, as in buttering up or flattering someone. The 5,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor eatery — which is accented with wood and tile flooring, a hanging garden, mirrors, chandeliers, and Indian artwork — will have a bar scene vibe with a full beverage program and an open kitchen featuring two blazing tandoors that will add warmth to the atmosphere.

The kitchen will be helmed by chef Hemant Mathur, a partner at several Indian restaurants in Manhattan. In 2004, Mathur made his name as a chef-owner at New York's Devi, which became the country’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant. In 2010, he opened Tulsi, which received the same accolade.

In addition to a maximalist approach to Indian cuisine that showcases authentic dishes from many of the subcontinent's regions, Mascarenhas says the menu will also feature a progressive take on Indian food that is new to Miami. "Because Indian food is so creamy, it is normally served family style so it won't lose its flavors," he says. "But Mathur's cooking style enables him to plate the food individually and still keep it flavorful, tight, and faithful to traditional recipes."

Michelin-Starred Chef Will Helm Midtown Indian Eatery MaskaEXPAND
Courtesy of Maska

The menu is divided into three categories, with the vast array of exotic and aromatic spices that characterize Indian cuisine showing up in small plates, from the tandoor, and large plates. "Some Indian restaurants add spices to Indian food to make it spicy," Mascarenhas says. "But our food is not spicy. In our case, we add the spices to make the dishes flavorful."

The small plates list will include a chicken korma hot pot of farm-raised chicken, garam masala, cashew nut glaze, and basmati rice and tadka dumplings made with jumbo lump crab, mustard seeds, curry leaf, and onions. Tandoor dishes include malai chicken and lamb chops to eat with a list of kulchas, Indian bread with stuffings like mushroom and truffle oil or fenugreek and potato.

The dessert list, crafted by Mathur with his pastry chef/wife Surbhi Sahni, will showcase options like paan ice cream, fig firni, and jaleebirabri, which are apple fritters soaked in saffron-flavored syrup and served with sweet cream rice pudding.

Permits are pending, Mascarenhas says, and they expect Maska to open at the beginning of the new year with dinner service Tuesday through Sunday.

Maska. 3252 NE First Ave., Suite 109; Miami; 786-971-9100; maskamiami.com.

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