The scents of saffron, cinnamon, and coriander lure diners into Shangri-La, where cooks fashion south-Asian fare from housemade yogurt and organic, locally grown produce. Inside a tandoori clay oven, red-hot coals seal in the flavors of traditional naan bread, jumbo shrimp, tender lamb chops, and marinated chicken breasts while sloughing off fat and cholesterol. The kitchen also specializes in Nepalese dishes such as cho-e-la, a boneless duck hugged with herbs and kissed by the tandoori oven’s flames. Handcrafted desserts such as ice cream and rice pudding pair sweetness with smoothness, like a jazz record manufactured from hard candy.
Nestled inside the northwest quadrant of Washington DC, this neighborhood gem houses an atmosphere swirling with pleasantries and pixie dust. Attentive servers promptly deliver well-portioned plates like devastating rhymes in a rap battle. Menu options lean toward the Indian side of the edible fence with an infusion of American flair in their preparation.
Angeethi blends Indian spices and ingredients in order to serve fresh, piquant entrees brimming with flavors straight out of Calcutta. Start by appointing one of Angeethi's appetizers as ambassador to your mouth, with options including deep-fried vegetable samosa ($4, two per order), and barbecued reshmi-kebab chicken ($6). From there, the restaurant's mammoth menu offers a long list of seafood, lamb, tandoori, and vegetarian entrees. The succulent goan white-fish curry comes sautéed in delectable coconut curry ($18), and the bakri balti is marinated goat, cooked in an herbed balti sauce with a pinch of wine ($16). Awaken the senses with the murg tandoori, which consists of chicken that's marinated overnight in yogurt ($13), told a rousing bedtime story around 2 a.m., then meticulously barbequed in a clay oven. Vegetarian entrees include palak paneer, homemade cheese cubes and spinach made zesty with herbaceous spices ($12). Wash down any spicy residue with a glass of vino from the beverage menu, offering wine from Washington, California, Italy, New Zealand, and other locales.
Cafe of India enchants diners with an unforgettable sensory experience that fuses meticulously concocted spices, colorful veggie stews, tender tandoori meats, and plush decor. A large crystal chandelier casts a canopy of warm light over cloth-clad tables and crimson drapery, and artfully plated kulcha, kebabs, and curries tempt diners from elegant bone-white plates or piping-hot silver serving pots. Friendly staff shepherd the uninitiated through the cinnamon-scented jungles and biryani-rich pastures of the extensive menu, and a wine list pairs feasts with the fruits of American, Australian, Chilean, and Neverland vineyards. The bill of fare pleases carnivorous as well as vegetarian appetites, with entrees ranging from hearty lamb stews and seafood masalas to savory chickpea curries and spinach cooked with creamy housemade paneer.
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.
Taj Mahal's menu is stocked with classic Indian fare at unbeatable prices, such as Tandoori chicken ($14.95), chicken tikka masala ($14.95), and the vegetarian chana masala (chickpeas blended with herbs and spices, $12.95). If you're unfamiliar with Indian food, the appetizer platter ($10.95) will introduce you to the world of vegetable samosas, crisp pappars, and chicken fried in chickpea batter. Seafarers, on the other hand, will find that the shrimp vindaloo ($16.95) pairs well with a side of kashmiri pulao (basmati rice, saffron, nuts, and dried fruit, $6.50) or mango chutney ($2.50). Bookend your meal with some fresh naan bread ($2.95) and a dessert of gulab-jamun ($5.95). Many dishes at Taj Mahal are vegetarian, in accordance with India's uneasy treaty with its herds of man-eating livestock.