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.
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.
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).
Kumar Iyer has spent years in the hospitality industry, managing restaurants aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and working the floor at local restaurants. He learned how to take care of people during these experiences, but more importantly, he codified what he thought made a great restaurant. When the time was right, he brought all of those ideas to his own culinary venture, Rangoli. From the laying of the bricks to the creation of the menu, Kumar made sure every element matched his lofty expectations.
Today, Kumar and his team serve up an eclectic array of Indian cuisine gathered from all over the continent. They prepare an exhaustive selection of curries, including a Konkani recipe called chicken xacuti, which uses flavors such as poppy seeds, fennel, and a tart fruit known as kokum in its creamy sauce. They also roast meat in traditional tandoori clay ovens, the blazing-hot vessels known for imparting their searing heat to lamb kebabs, whole chickens, and slightly smaller, more adorable clay ovens.
After the success of Bombay Bistro’s first location in Rockville, Maryland, chef K.N. Vinod and partner Surfy Rahman opened the Fairfax eatery in 1995. Like their first restaurant, the new location continues to serve fine Indian cuisine in a setting complete with Indian artifacts and warm colors. Savory dishes such as tandoori salmon and lamb vindaloo have attracted guests such as Madeleine Albright and visiting ministers from India, while a daily buffet attracts rumbling bellies.