Secret Fork: Shahi Palace is great for a first taste of Indian food – Sioux Falls Argus Leader (blog)

By on November 2, 2017

Indian food has been a fascination of mine for a long time. Years ago, before we had any Indian restaurants in the area, I used to study my Penzey’s Spice catalogs and ponder the various Indian spice blends.

Even though I could buy various curry blends like vindaloo, tikka masala or rogan josh, I really didn’t have the first clue what to do with them. I knew vindaloo was the hot stuff enjoyed in the southern coast region, and tandoori spice was for chicken, but that was about it. Moreover, being a South Dakotan, I really had no idea what “real” Indian food tasted like beyond some Midwest version of a curry dish. So I skipped over the home experimentation part.

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In the heart of meat and potato country, Sioux Falls offers a surprisingly wide array of ethnic food from around the world. So get out of your comfort zone and treat your taste buds to something new.
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My first encounter with Indian food occurred during a trip to Washington, D.C. This was in the pre-iPhone era, so I think we managed to identify what appeared to be a decent Indian restaurant located in Du Pont Circle in a visitor guide. We jumped onto the Metro and zipped across town. Du Pont Circle and the Metro subway station there are marvels unto themselves. If you’ve never been there, Du Pont Circle is a large roundabout where various streets intersect from various angles, courtesy of Pierre L’Enfant, the chief architect of the city. The Metro station is at the bottom of one of the longest escalators I’ve ever seen, and when you finally emerge at street level completely disoriented, you are confronted with heading one way, or the opposite, to find a destination. The difference in this particular case was two blocks versus a half-mile. Needless to say, we were well-exercised and ready to eat when we found the restaurant.

The food was excellent. We tried samosas, fried fritters containing silky potatoes and other vegetables. We ate poppadum, crispy chickpea flatbreads with herby or sour chutneys. And of course, despite a stern warning from our waiter that the dish was “quite spicy,” I laid into an order of lamb vindaloo cooked extra spicy. The flavor was phenomenal. Tender chunks of lamb, surrounded in a mysterious blend of toasty spices and sheer pain. Talk about an endorphin rush. To date, that was the spiciest thing I’d ever shoved into my mouth.

Needless to say, when Taste of India opened in Sioux Falls, I was quite excited to be able to experience all the exotic flavors of far-off India right here. I swear that place changed ownership every other week before it finally folded. I wondered if poker games were involved.

Fortunately, Shahi Palace over on South Shirley Avenue (more or less behind Home Depot) is open and well-qualified to satisfy my cravings for Indian food. The staff is friendly and accommodating. If you like Indian food, it is a great option. It’s an even better option for those who have never tried Indian food.

For the first-timer, I recommend heading to Shahi Palace for lunch. One word: buffet. For all of 10 bucks, you can sample various dishes. You will generally find standards on the buffet such as: tandoori chicken (pieces of chicken seasoned with mild spices and roasted in the traditional brick oven), butter chicken (chunks of chicken in a smooth, creamy sauce with mild curry flavors), naan (flatbread perfectly engineered to mop up sauce), basmati rice (a long grain rice with a sort of toasted popcorn flavor) and some lettuce salad and rice pudding dessert.

Beyond that, you will probably find some various dishes of dal (lentils or small legumes in a sauce), vegetable korma (mixed vegetables in a creamy curry sauce), maybe some fried fish and a spinach dish (hopefully saag paneer that contains silky chunks of a mild homemade cheese).

Get yourself a plate, put a modest scoop of basmati right in the middle of the plate, like an island, and then surround it with samplings of the various dishes. Grab a couple slices of naan, and then enjoy.

Don’t worry about spice levels. All the dishes on the buffet are mild. The flavor of the complex spice blends really shine. You can make a return trip, so there is no reason to be “that guy” who has two quarts of rice and butter chicken dripping off the plate.

As an added bonus, there is usually a cricket game on a nearby television, so while you ponder all the flavors dancing in your mouth, you can try to comprehend the rules of cricket. Good luck with that.

For me, I really like ordering off the menu, especially in the evening when you can relax and try some appetizers of fried vegetables or fritters, or maybe a soup. You’ll find usual things like the butter chicken and tikka masala, but you can generally find different meats or vegetables to go with the standard sorts of sauces. And, yes, you can even try the infamous lamb vindaloo. The chefs will gladly adjust spice levels for you, in case you want to challenge your GI system along with your taste buds.

Coordinate ordering with your dinner guests, so you can hopefully get a sampling of new dishes to try. Whatever you do, do not skip over the vegetable dishes. India is home to many vegetarians, and you may discover that your favorite Indian dish contains, gasp, no meat!

Give yourself a little culinary vacation and visit Shahi Palace.

Source Article from http://www.argusleader.com/story/blogs/corymyers/2017/11/01/secret-fork-shahi-palace-great-first-taste-indian-food/818035001/
Secret Fork: Shahi Palace is great for a first taste of Indian food – Sioux Falls Argus Leader (blog)
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