Gut Check receives a lot of press releases for new products. Many are useless, but occasionally one passes through that piques our interest. In this case, Sukhi's Gourmet Indian Cuisine made us do a double take with their promise of all-natural, authentic, complete Indian meals that can be prepared in fifteen minutes. Since many parts of the St. Louis metro area are lacking in Indian restaurants, this could be an easy and inexpensive way to get a curry fix without the trek.
But can Sukhi's possibly be as good as, say, India Palace (4534 North Lindbergh Boulevard, Bridgeton; 314-731-3333)?
We grabbed a packet of Sukhi's Korma Curry Sauce from the Brentwood Whole Foods. For less than five bucks we got a thick packet of deep green curry paste. Snipping open the packet released a fresh, tangy aroma spiked with kaffir lime.
It's a bit like "Curry Helper" -- add the seasoning packet, your own meat, and you have a meal. Mostly. The recipe called for 1 1/4 pounds of chicken (boneless and skinless) or mixed vegetables. We did half chicken breast, half fingerling potatoes cut into small chunks. After simmering the chicken and potatoes with water and the curry paste, we added one-quarter cup of whipping cream. Basmati rice and premade naan were made separately.
The potatoes took the cooking time a bit past the fifteen-minute mark, but not enough to be a deal breaker. Despite following the directions, the sauce's initial bright aroma was lost somewhere in the cooking process. And though the paste's second ingredient is cashews, there wasn't much nutty flavor. There was plenty of red chili, though. Even with the cream and other spices, the heat of pepper overpowered the dish. It lacked the nuanced flavors of restaurant korma.
India Palace's chicken korma doesn't lack nuance. Its rich, abundant sauce hints at nuts, dried fruit, herbs, spices and chile mingled in a warm cream sauce. It's vibrant in flavor and appearance. And a nice man brings it to the table while you sip tea and watch airplanes take off and land.
From a taste standpoint, India Palace is the winner. Not that Sukhi's is bad. Even though it's a bit of a one-note dish, it's certainly a cheap and easy alternative in situations where a good Indian restaurant isn't an option.
We liked the versatility of Sukhi's, especially being able to mix chicken with vegetables and potatoes. But for versatility, skip the pre-packaged sauce and make your own curry paste. It's not that difficult.