Mirch Masala's dishes of chicken and lamb kabobs, fluffy naan loaves, and creamy paneer honor the ancient flavors of the Indian subcontinent. Savory tomato sauce and dustings of ginger and cumin coat chickpeas, lamb, and poultry, while mango lassi and tamarind chutney add touches of sweetness to meals. Like the series of pneumatic tubes that ran under the Silk Road, the selection of Indo-Chinese dishes unite the produce and customs of India and China, fashioning inventive feasts such as ginger-cooked chili chicken entangled by hearty lo-mein noodles.
Yummy Indian food meets mellow décor in at this Tenleytown restaurant. As you enter the small about 50-seat Masala Art, you are welcomed by soothing music and mint-green walls adorned with tasteful artwork. The food is equally as vibrant on the plate, with much of the menu matching the vibrant colors of traditional Northern Indian cuisine. The house’s signature masala spice blends bring the heat, though not every dish leans on the heat. A favorite appetizer is the Aloo Tikki Chaat, fried potato cakes over chickpeas and sweet yogurt, while the Murg Makhani , known more affectionately as butter chicken, is one of the most frequently-ordered entrées. Portion sizes are filling, the service is attentive, the naan is fresh and the price is right – what’s not to like?
Traditional spices and culinary techniques from both the northern and southern regions in India guide chefs as they craft more than 100 dishes. They skewer prawns marinated in an almond cream and sprinkle spices atop roasted eggplant. In the kitchen, a clay oven heartily bakes ginger lamb chops and bread stuffed with dried fruits. The chefs also cook up their own phaal curry dish, described as “excruciatingly hot curry, more pain and sweat than flavor,” on the menu. As a reward for taking on the phaal, they offer a free bottle of beer or fire extinguisher to any diner that finishes it.
A palate-friendly palace in gold and green, Heritage India is the latest outpost of owner Sanjeev Tuli’s globe-spanning career in the hospitality business. Past ornate artwork and an elegant dining room, head chef Dawa Tamang draws on the culinary styles of his birthplace. The influence shows in menus of flavorful fusion cuisine, including calamari sautéed with curry leaves and coconut milk, and hyderabadi murgh haleem, a dish of chicken, barley, lentils, and spices. Smaller plates also abound, and Heritage India’s rendition of golgappas—a popular street food made of puffed wheat, potato, and chickpeas—inspired Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post to dream of a life overseas.
Chefs at Aroma Indian Cuisine know that patience pays off—they let their tandoori lamb marinate in bold spices overnight before cooking it in traditional clay ovens. This is one of the many ways Aroma demonstrates a commitment to serving authentic Indian and Pakistani cuisine at three locations throughout the DC area. The chef's feast for two overflows with samplings of saag paneer, tandoori chicken, and lamb kababs, presenting a welcome spread for couples, friends, or Doppelgangers that just met by a twist of fate. Those who don't eat meat can dig into one of the restaurant's many vegetarian dishes, which include vegan-friendly sauteed okra, and ginger-spiced channa masala.