How would you describe Indian food to an alien from another planet?
That is what it felt like trying to describe Indian food to my three children.
We were on our way to Karma Indian Cuisine, one of Moscow’s newest restaurants, located in the Eastside Marketplace.
They had to have eaten Indian food at some point in their lives, I thought. I searched my memory and a long ago, time-consuming, made-from-scratch Chicken Tikka Masala surfaced. They’d eyed it with suspicion. In the end, my carefully prepared meat dressed in creamy red sauce was rejected by closed lips, despite the fact they would happily survive on red sauce when it comes to spaghetti, pizza or that universal American salve, ketchup.
I didn’t bring up the shunned dish. Instead, I described Indian food as full of spices that are gold like sunflowers and orange like summer sunsets and full of flavors and tastes that would be new to them.
They looked at me with suspicion.
Karma opened earlier this year and boasts a full menu loaded with the authentic fare of India.
Of course, the first thing they decided they wanted was the country’s version of a milkshake, the traditional yogurt lassi ($3.99). We ordered mango lassis which were sweet and delicious and met with resounding approval all around the table.
For an appetizer, we ordered Paneer Pakora, homemade Indian cheese dipped in spiced grain flour and deep fried ($6.99), because, fried cheese. From the extensive vegetarian selection, we ordered Vegetable Mango, fresh vegetables cooked in a sauce of ginger, garlic, onions, spices and pieces of mango ($11.99). We also ordered a rice dish, Vegetable Biriyani, basmati cooked in a red gravy with your choice of meat. We chose lamb ($14.99).
Here’s a tip on ordering at Karma, go easy on the stars your first go around. Karma’s “mild,” one star, is what I would consider two stars at other regional ethnic restaurants. A friend described three stars, rated “medium hot” at Karma, as burning the inside of her mouth. Five stars, “very hot,” their highest rating, might be an unforgettable experience. Of course, spice tolerance is an individual preference and varies greatly. If you want more, you can add it from jars at the table.
Karma offers a wonderful variety. I look forward to returning and trying more, maybe the chef specialty, Chili Fish Popcorn ($8.99); or Korma, meat spiced and cooked with cashews, golden raisins and spices in yogurt sauce ($13.99). If I take my kids, I’ll continue to add to their culinary repertoire gently. I’m sure they’d approve of naan bread stuffed with cheese ($5.25) or Kashmiri Naan, stuffed with raisins and nuts ($4.95).
I can’t say my children became Indian food fans. They did try a bite of everything though, so their Idaho-raised, bland palettes are a bit broader for the experience.
Karma Indian Cuisine, 1420 S. Blaine St., Suite 19 (Eastside Marketplace), Moscow; (208) 301-5117