The show's plot was both melodramatic and idiotic, but the music had a sultry, sensual quality, particularly an orgasmic number called "Shakalaka Baby." By the time the curtain fell, my head was spinning. I was ready for either lots of erotic foreplay or a big plate of spicy lamb vindaloo.
Sex and food are both sensual pleasures featured in the Kama Sutra -- the ancient Indian treatise on cultivating desire, lust and sensual fulfillment -- though, unsurprisingly, a lot more attention is focused on unions than onions. But culinary pleasures have their place in the book, along with advice on embracing, kissing, scratching and biting. Eating mangos and tender ears of corn are alluring diversions, but for sheer potency, the book suggests a mixture of honey, black pepper and the dried powder of the thorn apple -- not to be eaten but rather applied as a kind of love balm in order to drive a woman mad with lust. And long before there was Viagra, the Kama Sutra had its own rousing recipe: milk boiled with sugar and a single goat testicle.
There are no goat balls on the menu at the four-month-old Korma Sutra, the seductive little Indian restaurant tucked into an odd corner of a Johnson County strip mall, but there is goat meat in five of the menu's dinner entrées, and for dessert there are heavy and shiny galub jamun balls floating in a silky syrup. Get the picture?
But sensuality is only an undercurrent at Korma Sutra, where the restaurant's name mimics the bawdy book by substituting korma -- a Mogul term meaning "braised" meats (though northern Indian versions of the dish are identifiable by rich ingredients, such as heavy cream and nuts) -- for the more penetrating kama. Still, the place has plenty of sex appeal, starting with the serving staff (who look like Bollywood matinee idols); the turquoise filters on the windows; the saffron-colored walls; and the fragrance of ginger, cumin and garlic wafting out of the tiny kitchen.
"It's hard to believe that this place used to be a Schlotzsky's," whispered my friend Lisa as we walked into the dining room and she took a gander at the linen-draped tables, the white napkins and the stylish light fixtures.
Schlotzsky's was one of the longtime tenants on the less-visible back side of the aging strip center. Now there are several "for lease" signs on the spaces surrounding Korma Sutra, enough of them that my friend Ned called the neighborhood "Desolation Row." But the addition of this attractive new Indian restaurant is a hopeful sign.
The first time I ate at the restaurant, I joined a motley group of fellow diners, all with particular culinary restrictions: Kelly, the stringent vegan; Lisa, the lacto-vegetarian (unlike Kelly, she'll eat dairy); Bob, who doesn't really like Indian cooking; and Joe, who will eat anything. This combination made sharing -- one of the friendlier facets of Indian cuisine -- somewhat awkward. The combination appetizer tray was a crazy quilt of meat and vegetable tidbits tucked into crunchy fried shells; Kelly asked our server, the suave Singh, to point out the things she could eat.