The close-knit family culture that is so prevalent in India makes its way across the pond to India's, where the Kumar clan—mom and pop Suraj and Sudesh, son Raghu, and daughter Rozy—dish up flavorful curries, stews, and roasted meats created in the kitchen by nephew and chef Zeenat Bhanot. They work together to ply patrons with both meaty and vegetarian morsels scented with cardamom, ginger, and fenugreek.
Like the trail of raisins Marco Polo left to find his way back along the Silk Road, the bill of fare spans the subcontinent. South Indian mulligatawny soups and Goan chicken vindaloo mingle with Mughlai butter-based sauces and North Indian Khara Pasanda lamb. These fragrant dishes tantalize noses amid the dining area's impressive art collection of colorful paintings and gilded statues.
Every morning at Ghar-E-Kabab, chefs Chandasar Ray and Chetnath Bhandari enact a delicate dance across the kitchen. Chef Ray pulls Indian and Nepalese spices from the spice rack for his simmering curry sauces. Meanwhile, Chef Bhandari alternates between fanning the flames of his earthen tandoor oven, and kneading batches of sweet naan dough, a traditional South Asian flat bread.
This daily ritual reflects the chefs? mission to uphold traditional cooking methods they mastered in their native India and Nepal. Chef Bhandari originally arrived in DC to work as a chef for the Royal Nepalese Embassy, and he brings his revered attention to detail to his own restaurant. The duo crafts every entree from scratch, from the fluffy breads to the creamy yogurt sauces. But although they strive to follow traditional recipes, they tweak them for health: meats marinate in olive oil, and only local, organic produce simmers in the tandoor oven.
The fragrant aroma of freshly ground ginger and cinnamon wafts from Akbar’s Restaurant’s kitchen, mingling with the smoky scent of meats simmering in a traditional tandoori oven. Rife with spices, buttery marinades, and cream-based sauces, the eatery's Northern Indian cuisine nabbed the title of Best Indian Restaurant from City Paper’s Best of Baltimore 2010. In the dining room, romance sparks amid classical Indian music and walls laden with traditional art and lists of pun-free pickup lines.
Plates at Kabab Hut brim with traditional Bangladeshi dishes including curries, tandoori chicken, and skewered kebabs. A selection of 27 combo meals load these spicy, simmering entrees onto beds of rice along with sides such as fries or naan. The eatery also welcomes families with a kids' menu that reduces each dish to smaller portions without the need to root around for the shrink ray Mom keeps in her purse.
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 saut?ed with curry leaves and coconut milk; hyderabadi murgh haleem, a dish of chicken, barley, lentils, and spices; and golgappas, a popular street food made of puffed wheat, potato, and chickpeas.
Key Ingredients on the Menu
At both of Himalayan Heritage’s locations, chefs pull marinated chicken and lamb from charcoal clay ovens. The tandoori dishes are a staple of Indian cuisine, but Indian is only half the story here. Much of the menu is dedicated to Nepalese food, which, as Tom Sietsema explains in his glowing Washington Post review, is similar, but not the same. For an introduction, he recommends the momo—dumplings made of spiced minced chicken or vegetables that are steamed inside flour dough and served with aachar or chutney sauce.
Diners enjoy their meals at white-linen covered tables in a dining room with bright orange walls and a golden ceiling from which intricate lanterns hang. The space is flush with cultural artwork, including a large thangka painting that acts as a blimp in an emergency if you add enough balloons.