India House

Opening India House in 1974, Madan Goyal chose his Mockingbird Lane location because of its proximity to Southern Methodist University. Mr. Goyal’s interview for “Digging In” reveals details about how he transformed the Hickory House BBQ into the area’s only Indian restaurant, flying tandoor ovens and chefs from India to Dallas: “Tandoor is an Indian clay oven which is very typical of Indian food cooking. And so we had to get those by air from the Delhi on Lufthansa. Lufthansa delivered it. They didn't break on… the way. But then we installed it. So I started, got this barbecue place while we were working on opening the Indian restaurant. So, the barbecue place ran till we got the cooks, we got tandoors, and we shut down the barbecue place and converted it to India House.”</span >

As one of the earliest members of the Indian community in Dallas, Goyal recalled the formation of the India Association of Dallas and the movie nights they held at an auditorium on UT Southwestern’s campus to show Indian reel-to-reel films that arrived by mail from India. He explained that “The India Association did the movies. That was one of the things. They would bring the movies mostly. Many times we showed the movie- Indian movies at the Southwestern Medical School and one of their auditoriums because there were some doctors also who were Indian doctors, and they could arrange to use of the auditorium. And then it used to be in the big reels, not digital. So the reels will come in in the mail and then somebody will take it. And we had a projector and that's how we played and watched movies. So it was pretty popular because that essentially was really the only Indian outlet to and with the small community.”

As Goyal points out in his interview, in the 1970s, “the Indian population of Dallas was so small, even if each one of them came in once a month, it probably wouldn’t be enough” to keep the restaurant in business. As such, his customer base “came from almost, I think, every walk of life who were curious, who wanted or who heard about Indian food and wanted to try and saw that, "Hey, it's now available locally. Let's go try it." Or those who have traveled and may have seen it in London or some other place…So it was, you know, all various kinds of people.”</span >

The restaurant served as a bridge to learn about Indian food and culture in small and large ways. Goyal “started the buffet…essentially so that people would get introduced to the food. So they could come in at lunch and they can pick and choose and try it without having to be concerned, whether they like it or not like it. Plus, they get introduced to the food and then if they felt then, then they would come back in the evening with the family. So that was instead of just having like lunch special place. We thought, ‘Well, let's do the buffet, so they can, you know, whatever one price they can take whatever or as much as they like, they can come back if they like more.’ So that was the idea of the buffet…I did it because I wanted people to try and be introduced to the food.”

India House was the first Indian restaurant to participate in the “Taste of Dallas,” serving mint chutney, pakora, and pappadum at the 1975 event, according to the Dallas Morning News. India House chefs also were in demand for events like “India Week” at the Fairmont Hotel and the Neiman Marcus Fortnight in downtown Dallas. Also, Goyal explains how customers’ interest in cooking Indian food brought them to him for advice: “That's why...Many times they'll ask, "Oh, well, what kind of spices? What would I need if I want to make this dish at home? Whatever it could be- a dal or a curry or a chicken dish. So we’ll explain it to them that it takes this kind of… spices and then many say, "Well, but where can I buy these?" So again, there was no Indian grocery stores which specialized in Indian foods and condiments and Indian things, so they'll go to the regular grocery store and get some of those things. And if they were really keen on getting, they'll get it from New York or Chicago sometimes, the dishes.”

“A Taste of India Joins a Taste of Dallas.” Dallas Morning News, October 16, 1975.

India House