Tim Hudson told me the Tandoori Chicken at India Palace was the "benchmark" when it comes to that dish in Memphis. So, he and his wife, Wilda, recently joined me for dinner at the Midtown restaurant. I liked the Tandoori Chicken, but I fell for the Chicken Korma.
Binder Kumar, an India Palace owner/manager, suggested Wilda try the dish, which consists of boneless chicken cooked with onions, cashew nuts, golden raisins, cream and mild curry spices (It makes my mouth water just to write the description). I ended up eating most of it.
I once made the Shrimp Curry with ice from a recipe from the old Justine's restaurant. It actually turned out great. Now I'm always ready to recapture the flavor of anything that resembles that feel-good dish.
Chicken Korma, along with Chicken Tikka Masala, which is mesquite-broiled chicken cooked with bell pepper and onions in a tomato-butter sauce, are common dishes in India, Kumar said.
I tried it mild, but I wondered what Chicken Korma would taste like hot. As with all their food, Kumar said they "turn intense heat into intense flavors."
India Palace also offers Lamb Coconut Korma, Fish Korma and Fish Coconut Korma. That last one got to me. It sounds tantalizing: fish cooked with coconut milk, onion, tomatoes, cashew nuts and spices.
We tried a few things, so the table top was crowded. Wilda loved the chicken curry, and Tim was a fan of the Lamb Vindaloo, which is lamb cooked in hot spices in a highly seasoned gravy of potatoes, chili pepper and tomatoes. One of the many surprises on the table was the Peshawari naan, an Indian-style leavened bread stuffed with cashew nuts, golden raisins and cherries.
Kumar showed us the tandoori, a clay oven imported from India. This is where they cook the Tandoori Chicken, which is chicken marinated in yogurt and mild spices.
India Palace was lively the night we were there. Braham Dhillon was the honoree at a traditional Indian wedding sangeet. The groom and his family, relatives and friends — but no bride-to-be — are invited to the party, which includes a buffet dinner and a singalong of Indian songs. The bride's party is held the night before the wedding.
I knew I was at the right place when Dhillon said, "When I come here to eat it, it reminds me of home."
India Palace is at 1720 Poplar; (901) 278-1199.