Monday, August 1, 2011

Indian Feast!

I have described myself countless times as an "ethnic eater" mainly because I love cuisines from all over the globe, but I'm also one of those people who has to have variety.  HAVE TO HAVE IT.  As a kid I had someone describe Hell to me as being sentenced to eternity doing exactly what you hate the most.  Hate snakes?   They're everywhere.  Hate mushrooms?  Fungi a-plenty.  Hate opera?  You see where this is going.  For me, having my week go by with terms like "sandwich night," "tuna casserole day" and "Friday night steaks" would be my Hell.  Gotta change it up and I gotta do it often.

One of my faves is Indian food.  What I find funny is that the Brits are hardly known as culinary giants, but those fools eat probably as much Indian food as the Indians themselves.  
Your tandoor is HOT, baby!

Here in the South, not so much.  People here either love it or hate it.  My sister, for example, would probably love the flavor, but after entering some kid's home in elementary school and being overwhelmed by the smell of fried curry leaves, she can't even fathom eating Indian food because the smell makes her run away screaming.  My mom made her famous curry dip for every party I can remember growing up, but can I get her into an Indian restaurant?  That would be a big, fat NO.  What I'm getting at is this...if I want Indian food, that I don't cook myself, I have but one trusty companion who will accompany me.  My husband.  

The thing is, he's rarely available at lunch and since we are raising the world-renowned Wunderkind, dinner out is not as common for us as it once was.  But, alas, there are special occasions like today when he's taken the day off.  So, the plan was hatched to meet up for lunch at Delhi Palace on St. Andrews Road.  Hot damn!  (If you know Indian food, you know this exclamation can be quite literal.)

We had not been here before.  Upon entering, I was immediately and happily warmed by the delicious and delightful aromas that filled the room.  The decor is very tasteful and inviting and just plain attractive.  For lunch, they offer a buffet that was a very reasonable $7.99.  I couldn't keep track of exactly everything that Neil chose, but I'll do my best to remember the dishes we tried.

First, I got a cup of the tomato soup.  It was a thin soup with lots of flavor.  It also had a tang, maybe from a hit of vinegar or some other type of acid.  Not heavy at all and a very tasty starter to the meal.  I sampled the squash masala over basmati rice, dum aloo (potatoes), saag paneer (one of my all-time favorites), chicken tikka masala, vegetable korma, naan and a vegetable pakora.  In a word...YUM.  The korma is also one of my faves and I really liked this veggie version.  The squash masala was actually the most spicy dish and I was quite pleased.  The dum aloo was very warm and flavorful as was the saag.  I've made chicken tikka masala at home before, but you know chicken is chicken, right?  Well, this chicken was the most tender I've had in a long time.  Remarkably so.  The pakoras were also very tasty and had nice chunks of veggies that still held their own.  Neil had most of the same things I did, but he found the lentils to be his favorite of the day.  He hates it when vegetables are over done and mushy.  His comment here was that they were perfectly cooked, spicy and ranked #1 for him today.  As Neil says, "if you screw up a vegetable, you can't hide it."  He also liked the tandoori chicken very much, although he wished it was a bit warmer.  

Neither of us hit the desserts, but today's choices were a vermicelli pudding, mango pudding and a carrot dessert.  I can't remember the name of the carrot dish, but years ago I had Indian clients who owned a restaurant and they introduced me to this dish.  Outta sight!  This is one of those dishes that even if you think you're not a carrot fan, it'll change your mind.  

If you don't know much about Indian food, I think Delhi Palace's buffet offers a good opportunity to learn about it and you'll be sampling really good, satisfying food.  
 खाने, पीने और मगन हो  (Hindi for "eat, drink and be merry")

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