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I'll be frank. When I first learned that India Palace was located in a strip-mall in the middle of Tourist World, I sighed deeply and thought, "Do I gotta?"

Let me tell you, I'll be making the trip frequently.

It's not that the place is, well, a palace. But it is immaculate and attractive: a large room painted soft pink; pink table linen; silk flowers; lovely brass chandeliers; glittery Indian prints on the walls; quiet Indian music in the background.

My dining companion and I began our meal by perusing a mouthwatering selection of eight Indian breads ($1.25-$3.95). We sampled a delicious chapati ($1.25), which is thin and roasted, and aloo paratha ($3.25) -- a grilled version that's stuffed with delicately spiced potatoes.

The eight-item appetizer selection was ample and varied and ranged from papadam ($1) -- thin bean wafers -- to Madras fried shrimp ($7.95). I went with the vegetable samosa ($2.50). These crisply prepared patties, stuffed with potatoes and peas and a touch of spices, were delicious, as was the onion bhaji, vegetable fritters that combine onions, green peppers, potatoes and spinach.

The gosht section of the menu ($10.25-$11.95), eight beef or lamb options, includes gosht rogan josh, in which the meat is cooked with cream, fresh tomato sauce, onions, green peppers and spices. For chicken (murgh) lovers there's everything from murgh curry ($9.95) -- a straightforward, boneless curried chicken -- to the Madras-style murgh ($10.95), which simmers the chicken with fresh tomatoes and special spices. My companion gave raves to his jeera chicken ($10.95) with butter, cumin seed, garlic, ginger, onion and green pepper.

And there are tandoori choices ($9.95-$18.95) cooked in the traditional Indian clay oven and a dozen vegetarian dishes ($7.95-$8.95), all featuring the exotic spices for which Indian cuisine is famous. I found the eggplant bhartha delectable, the vegetable simmered and blended with spices. Equally tasty was the aloo gobhi, which featured cauliflower, potatoes and green peas, and the mushroom bhaji, a spicy concoction of 'shrooms, green peppers, onions and tomatoes.

I'd drive a lot farther than the Palace's Buena Vista location to partake of its dishes. The first bite made a Himalayan trek seem reasonable.

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