Growing up, Chakra Café’s owner Monisha lived two different lives. At school, she was known by her given name and spent lunch hours twirling spaghetti on a fork. But at home, Monisha’s Bengali parents only referred to her by her nickname, Hashi–or laughter–and mealtimes meant scooping up lamb curry with a piece of luchi. The duality of Monisha’s two worlds–and the food she was exposed to–left a lasting impression and is the driving force behind the Café’s menu.
Inside Chakra Café’s kitchen, chefs marry Indian flavors with culinary traditions from around the world, using recipes adapted from Monisha’s mother, according to a Patch.com article. Traditional Bengali dishes such as begun bhartha–roasted eggplant flavored with green mango–are served solo or stuffed inside quesadillas with smoked fontina cheese, roasted pine nuts, and raitha yogurt sauce. Other Indian staples are also Americanized, from the tandoori chicken that tops flatbread pizzas to spaghetti paired with lamb meatballs and a whisper of ghee. Each item on the menu is clearly marked as halal, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, making it easy to decipher the dishes without meat and the ones that require each bite to be chewed 32 times.
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 the age of 14, Bikram Choudhury, with three National India Yoga competitions under his mat, had already been named king of the yogis by Swami Sivananda. As an adult, the United Nations put Bikram on the payroll, along with doctors and researchers at Tokyo University, so that he could teach them the healing potential of the ancient practice. Now, his signature brand of yoga—constructed with scientific rigor and the insights borne of millennia of practice—is taught throughout the world.
The intense heat and demanding postures that are trademarks of Bikram yoga have gained appeal due to their ability to test even the most self-disciplined yogis. Like chess, or cartwheeling around the edge of an active volcano, the moves are easy to learn, but intensely difficult to master.
That's where the experienced instructors at Bikram Yoga Tenleytown come in. The staff cheerily receives each guest at the door before leading the 90-minute routines, which progress through the 26 postures and two breathing exercises of Bikram Choudhury's celebrated method. They motivate newbies and devotees through toe stands, sit-ups, and rabbit poses that lengthen spines and restore flexibility to limbs. The studio's warmth of character and yogis maintaining sofa poses ensure that the greenest of guests feel comfortable in the sessions.
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.
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.
As guests step past the pink silk curtains that hang in the entryway, the first thing they notice is the unmistakable aroma of charcoal. The source is the restaurant's clay tandoor, where chicken and fish cop grill flavoring that completes their yogurt, herb, and spice marinades. Like an all-in-one print/fax/clone-an-army machine, this clay oven can handle multiple tasks at once, as it also yields such fresh-baked breads as the potato-and-pea-stuffed aloo paratha. Diners feast on these dishes at tables covered in white linens in a dining room that stretches back to a full bar.