Traditional Indian spices flavor the tandoori, curry, and rice dishes served at Masala Magic. In the kitchen, chefs marinate boneless chicken in yogurt before sliding the dish into a clay oven, simmer pieces of lamb in a creamy spice-infused sauce, and dunk homemade cheese cubes into buttery makhani sauce. During the lunchtime buffet, patrons can gather curries, veggies, and mounds of rice to pile onto their plates or pour into the motorcycle helmet they prefer to eat out of.
The Wahla brothers have spent the past 25 years perfecting their spin on authentic Punjabi cuisine, opening restaurants throughout Scotland and the United States. Inside the kitchen of their latest venture, Tandoori Village, clay tandoors bake skewers of chicken, beef, and shrimp while chefs marinate jumbo prawns in yogurt, knead soft balls of dough for baking buttery disks of naan, and deep-fry chicken and goat samosas. An ornate carved door with golden embellishments looms at the entryway of the restaurant, giving way to the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges that accent the walls and drape across ceiling timbers, and elegant archways that house traditional lanterns and clay pots. Outside, the patio's additional seating encourages outdoor dining and easier hitchhiking on passing tractor beams.
You might momentarily forget your hunger when you step into Curry Mantra's striking, newly expanded dining room, where vivid Indian artwork speckles the warm orange and yellow walls. Your appetite is reawakened, however, when you peer into the large kitchen window and catch sight of juicy morsels of lamb, salmon, and chicken waiting to be cooked in tandoori ovens. When discussing his decision to install a kitchen window with a food critic Tom Sietsema from the Washington Post, owner Asad Sheikh explained, "I want my customers to see what's going on in the tandoor." He's proud of the work that goes on in his kitchen, which earned Curry Mantra a spot on Northern Virginia magazine's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2011 and 2012, and Washingtonian Magazine's Best of Fairfax 2013. His chefs pull culinary inspiration from all four corners of India, folding lamb, chicken, and seafood into a wide variety of flavorful curries and fiery vindaloos. To craft their goat biryani rice dish, the chefs use a generations-old recipe passed down to Sheikh from his grandmother, peppering aromatic basmati rice and tender goat meat with saffron and nuts.
Silverware clinks against glass tabletops in the dining room, where diners sip on glasses of wine and creamy mango lassi. Come lunchtime, a buffet table will stretch across the room, lined with silver trays of freshly made dishes. On the weekends, the eatery hosts live music, as traditional flutists and drummers play classical Indian music and the theme from Three's Company upon request.
Bombay Garden Restaurant serves an extensive menu of traditional northern Indian dishes, forged from fresh ingredients and savory sauces. Appetizers include the restaurant's signature smoked tomato soup, made from fresh tomatoes that spent an overnight slumber party in a clay oven with its close chums, cinnamon sticks ($4.95). Sample further clay oven-finished delicacies with entrees such as tandoori trout, marinated in garlic, ginger, yogurt, and lemon juice, and then lightly barbecued ($15.95), or its terrain-based cousin, the tandoori chicken ($12.95). Those who like it spicy may opt for the chicken vindaloo ($12.95), braving bold flavors of aged vinegar and blended spices to reach the tender meat beneath. Vegetarians can rejoice in a wide variety of options, including the baingan bharta, containing grilled eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs ($9.95). Before tucking your taste buds in for the night, dine on the rasmalai dessert, featuring homemade cheese snuggled in a reduced milk robe embroidered with pistachio, almond, and cardamom flavors ($4.95).
The chefs at Touch Indian Cuisine apply their passion to regional Indian fare by perfectly seasoning slow-cooked sauces, searing meats, and baking house-made naan. Tandoori chicken tikka ($13) lowers a drawbridge into its boneless chicken fortress, granting diners permission to feast upon the perfectly roasted spires. Guests can also feast upon plates of dal makhani ($9), or use its tomato and fenugreek seasoning to paint a detailed self-portrait on their tablecloth. Challenge friends to a gobi keema mutter ($9) speed-eating contest and scarf down spiced cauliflower and green peas, saving room for a bonus round of lamb biryani ($12). Marinated in sweet milk, ras malai ($3) signifies a satisfying meal's end by taking credit-card transactions and dispensing after-dinner mints. In addition to dinner, Touch Indian Cuisine throws a daily, all-you-can-eat smorgasbord ($6.99–$10.99) of their most celebrated dishes, filling bellies and smuggled in lawnmower bags with delicious edibles of all kinds.
IndAroma's inventive chefs ferry flavors across culinary borders, regaling tongues with francophilicly enlivened Indian classics. The menu teems with curries, kebabs, naan pizzas, and succulent wraps, such as the marinated, tandoori-baked lamb kebab in cucumber sauce ($7.50), which provides the portable edibility of a laptop made of toffee. Rummage through the samosa chaat ($4.90), a treasure chest of chickpea curry, onions, mint, and spicy garlic-and-tamarind sauce or seek the comfort of boneless chicken biryani's flavorful warmth ($8.99). Petit fours and éclairs bask alongside a profusion of cakes each as sweet and unique as the fingerprint of an Oompa Loompa and served by the slice in flavors such as black forest, mango, and pistachio.