From Ahmedabad in India, Maulik Patel traveled to the United States 10 years ago to study graphic design in Virginia and then later settled in Citrus County to open its first Indian and American food eatery.
Located on the Indian west coast, Ahmedabad is the first city in India designated as a UNESCO Heritage City.
After he arrived in Virginia to attend Old Dominion University, Patel decided to turn his talents in a different direction, opening Kancha, The Kitchen of Love.
Patel’s venue is small and unassuming, but laden with authentic Indian cuisine that is drawing new customers, including those homesick for their favorite dishes.
Daily curry specialties such as Butter Chicken and other items including Chicken Tikka Masala, variations of filled Samosas, Rotis (a flatbread), Pakora (crisp chicken bites known as “Indian popcorn”), and every so often, a long, slow-cooked goat curry.
Also on the menu at times, along with the Butter Chicken curry, are Pineapple Curry, Spicy Beef Vindaloo, Gujarati Dal and Rice, Biryani, Pav Bhaji, Traditional Okra Curry and Riata (a cool cucumber and yogurt garnish sauce.)
Patel first opened his small food truck in the parking lot at Lowe’s in Inverness before relocating to the site on State Road 41 (North Florida Avenue) between Hernando and Holder at Niko’s Roadhouse.
He said he is currently seeking a storefront location in the county and hopes to open a full-service restaurant soon, serving all of his specialties.
During a recent visit, we sampled the Chicken Tikka, delicious tender white meat fillets charcoal-cooked and served with a spicy sauce. We plan to return for the Butter Chicken.
“Between 13 to 15 different seasonings are used in most Indian dishes,” Patel said, along with the Indian mixed spice staple Garam Masala. He said he learned to cook at home from his parents, who were talented cooks.
Patel does offer a hearty nod to American foods as well, with his huge Beef and Chicken Philly Cheese Steaks as popular items, along with full breakfasts. Also available are burgers, Italian sausage subs, corn dogs, onion rings, french fries, corn nuggets and nachos.
There is nothing on the menu that will deplete your wallet and both the Indian and American items are very affordable.
Patel features a diverse choice of curries made fresh daily, as are all dishes and snacks on the menu.
“Give us a call on your way, and we will have your food hot and ready! Our food is cooked to order,” he advises on his Facebook page: Kancha l the Kitchen of Love.
If you wish to learn more about Indian cuisine, visit the Facebook page for information and descriptions of menu items.
Patel and his fiancée, Meagen Lee-Kill, of Inverness, are also busy planning a June wedding, he said.
Presently, there is no seating at the Kancha location, but Niko’s Roadhouse allows Kancha diners free table service inside for those who wish to dine on the premises.
Kancha, The Kitchen of Love is at 5210 N. Florida Ave. (State Road 41) about three miles north of Hernando. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
Call 352-476-3069 for information about daily special curries and other dishes, catering, carry-out and special requests.