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THE EATBEAT: India Palace offers warm flavors on a wintry day

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accent Grand Forks, 58203

Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Grand Forks ought to have an Indian restaurant. You hear that occasionally. And there has in the past been Indian fare here.

We found the India Palace in Fargo just before my granddaughter Carrie Sandstrom (CS) left with the UND group from Christus Rex for India during winter break. Joining us for the farewell dinner was another UND student, Will Beaton (WB).

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Nothing tastes so good on a bitterly cold winter night as warm spiced Indian tea. We were sipping that as we studied the orderly, easy-to-read menus.

We talked about the diversity of flavors in India and the differences from one region to the next. Beef has been rare and still not eaten by some. The staples are rice and wheat flour along with lentils. The spices and flavorings bring life to Indian food. There is the taste of chili pepper, black mustard, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander and garlic.

Tea is a staple throughout India. It is made with boiled tea leaves in a mix of water, milk, spices, cardamom, cloves and ginger.

As we savored our tea in the India Palace, we visited with Eric and Kelsey Timmer, Mandan, N.D. They were sharing a dinner for two and called it "phenomenal." It includes vegetable samosa, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, boti kabob and shrimp tandoori. It's served for $45.99 with lamb curry or chicken tikka masala and vegetable korma. Also naan or garlic naan and rice. They found it a delightful stop on their way home from Christmas travels.

CS chose chicken tikka for dinner. WB ordered a dish called ka-rara, which is spicy curry with roasted coconut, red chilies, curry leaves, cumin and coriander seeds. My choice was shahi korma, a mild curry dish with shrimp.

Our choices and the rice were served in gleaming metal bowls with little handles to make them easy to pass around the table. We ate family style -- sharing and passing the dishes. And WB and CS agreed it was a pleasant way to have dinner. We were pleased with the variety of tastes. And we were impressed with the light, nonsticky quality of the white rice.

It was a meal in a setting where it is comfortable to relax and linger. The restaurant is clean, orderly and it was rather quiet. The tables are covered with glass toppings over white cloths. There is Indian art and soft Indian music. And the emphasis is on food of northern India.

CS checked the restroom. We agree the condition there sends a message about a restaurant. This one was orderly.

Our bill for the Indian adventure came to $45.

India Palace

5050 13th Avenue, S., Fargo

Owners: Gurdip and Narimder Mand.

Manager: Deep Mand.

Hours for lunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Hours for dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Reservations: (701) 356-6500.

Beer and wine available.

Report card: Authentic Indian food served in quiet, orderly surroundings. Prices are moderate. Server rates a plus for being helpful, yet unobtrusive. Veterans and students qualify for a 10-percent discount.

Another Indian restaurant in Fargo is Passage to India.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or at (701) 772-1055.

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