IPAs And Indian Food: Like Peas And Carrots (In Mumbai)

Fact: Indian food is incredibly flavorful and can be quite spicy.
Fact: India pale ales are incredibly flavorful and can be quite bitter.
Fact: It's difficult to pair beer with Indian food.
Fact: It's difficult to pair food with IPAs.
Fact: Indian food and IPAs were made for each other, literally.

That last fact should be self-evident, but if it was Indian restaurants (at least the ones around here) would stick a few Loose Cannons, maybe an Avery IPA on the menu. But that's not the case. Instead, your beer options are limited to a redundant list of light lagers whose labels might invoke thoughts of India - Kingfisher, Taj - but are otherwise indistinguishable from the light lagers made in St. Louis and Golden, Colo.

To be fair, lagers have been the beer of choice in India for more than a century. In fact, lagers are the beer of choice in most parts of the world. There was a time, though, when bitter, hop-forward ales from England were all the rage on the subcontinent (and then the Indians booted out their British overlords and switched to the German stuff).

Travel to England today and you'll be hard pressed to find a pub that doesn't have curry on the menu. For a people known for fried fish and sausages, they have fully embraced an Indian staple as their own (thanks to their old Asian holdings). But travel to India, and the culinary cultural exchange doesn't stand up, at least where beer is concerned. 

That's a shame because there may be no better beverage to pair with a spicy curry than a hoppy India pale ale.

As craft beer has become more popular over the past decade, so too has the idea that beer can be paired with more than burgers and pizza. Thomas Keller commissioned Russian River Brewing and Brooklyn Brewery to make special beers for his restaurants The French Laundry and Per Se. Here in D.C., Chef Eric Ziebold's tasting menu at CityZen has included a beer course, and Michel Richard imports the Belgian pilsner Blusser for his restaurant Central. And then there's Birch & Barley, which offers a beer pairing with each course of Chef Kyle Bailey's tasting menu.

Once the domain of wine, beer is being recognized as an ideal accompaniment to food. Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewing and author of The Brewmaster's Table, has gone even further to say that beer offers a wider range of flavors and styles, making it the ideal accompaniment to food. (The Brewmaster's Table, as it happens, is a book about pairing food with beer.)

That may be true, but when it came to Indian cuisine, I never gave it much thought. As oafish at it may sound, I viewed curries and kormas as ethnic food made by people from foreign lands. So if the people running the restaurant wanted to offer a few light lagers with their dishes, so be it. Their food, their beer. After all, you go to Indique for the food not the drink. Well, a cold Fisherking may be common in Mumbai's curry houses, but it's not the ideal beer for the food. The ideal one might just be a California pale ale. (I know it's not an IPA. I'll get to that.)

Book I got thinking about this particular food and beer pairing after reading Pete Brown's latest book, Hops and Glory. In it, the British beer writer explores the development of the IPA and England's colonization of India, and chronicles his journey from Burton-Upon-Trent (the birthplace of IPAs) to Calcutta with a keg of IPA in tow. It's a good book, and in it Brown makes the point that IPAs not only go well with Indian cuisine, they taste like they were made for it.

"[The IPA he brought from England] really was dangerously drinkable, and when the tandoori canapés came round it went beautifully, cutting through the heat and harmonizing with the spices so perfectly it was as if the beer had been designed specially to go with the cuisine, and perhaps it had."

That sparked my interest. While Oliver and other beer writers have made the point that IPAs can go well with very flavorful dishes and spicy foods, Brown's 450 page treatise on the matter convinced me to try the pairing myself.

Because Indian restaurants don't offer India pale ales, I conducted my tasting at the next logical location: the Iron Horse bar in Penn Quarter.

I like the Iron Horse, a lot. Not only does it offer a great selection of craft beers and is home to bartender extraordinaire Scott Stone, but it has a tavern license. What that tavern license means is that they don't serve food, so you can bring in food from anywhere. As long as you're drinking, that's no problemo. You can even have food delivered and never leave your barstool. That's turned the Iron Horse into my go-to bar for watching college football (Pattison Avenue and pints, people) and in this case, my go-to spot for lamb vindaloo and IPAs.

DSC_0030 The vindaloo, which I picked up from nearby Mehak, was great. Chunks of lamb and potato swam in a pool of fiery red curry. It was delicious, and completely overwhelmed my pallet. The onion kulcha, a doughy flat bread filled with onions, was good, but no match for the vindaloo.

For the pairing, I ordered Flying Dog's Double Dog imperial IPA, which clocks in at 11.5% A.B.V.; Flying Dog's Snake Dog IPA, which comes in at a more modest 7.1% A.B.V.; Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (on the theory that English IPAs aren't nearly as high in alcohol as our IPAs), which runs 5.6% A.B.V.; and Sierra Nevada's new Juniper Black Ale, a hoppy 8% A.B.V. black IPA.

Of the four beers, the two with the lowest alcohol levels paired the best with the spicy Indian dish. The Double Dog (a personal favorite) was much too sweet for the dish and the heat of the vindaloo overwhelmed whatever hop characteristics the Juniper Black Ale had, making it taste like an ordinary stout. On the other hand, the IPA and pale ale were spot on.

Although the IPAs didn't compliment the curry in the same way the dark stouts compliment chocolate and coffee flavors, the Snake Dog IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale stood their ground with the vindaloo. A dish with the much flavor and heat would turn a Taj to water, but the IPAs remained bright, hoppy and citrusy deep into the bowl.

Between the two beers, I favored the pale ale. Both went well, but the bitter bite from the Snake Dog and the spicy of the vindaloo were a bit much for me. The Sierra Nevada, though, was refreshing, and the subtler hop bitterness helped restore my taste buds between bites.

These results shouldn't have been surprising, even if they were. This food and this style of beer should be easier to find together, even if it's not. But the fact is, IPAs pair well with Indian food, even if you have to bring the food to the beer.

And if Indian isn't your thing or you want a few more pairing options, you could try Thai (which Scott suggested) or fried chicken (which my wife suggested). I think they're both right. If it's spicy enough or fried enough, it can be matched up with an IPA. Brooklyn's Oliver has suggested pairing IPAs with fried fish, Mexican and calamari. Point being, IPAs go well with spicy and greasy food. When it comes to pairing Indian food with beer, though, I don't think there's a better option than an IPA (or pale ale).

Iron Horse Taproom
507 7th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 347-7665

817 7th St. N.W.
Washington D.C., DC 20001
(202) 408-9292

Haandi's Buffet

Lately, one of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to go to Haandi in Bethesda for their lunch buffet. The last two weekends, I've managed to get there on either a Saturday or Sunday, and both times it was a very good experience. The most impressive thing about the buffet is that they bring out fresh naan for you. Rather than bring out bunches of naan and let it sit there under a heat lamp, they make it fresh and they refill it when you run out. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have fresh made bread instead of the rubbery naan that you get at most Indian buffets.

The other thing I really like about Haandi's buffet is the variety of dishes. You don't find butter chicken or bland dishes on the buffet, but rather you can get dishes malai kofta with spicy cheese and potato dumplings in a thick masala curry, or baigan bartha with diced eggplant cooked in a tandoor oven serviced with a mixture of vegetables and five-spice curry. In fact, this is one of the few Indian restaurants where I really enjoy to eat vegetarian. They also regularly have a minced lamb and herb (or seekh) kabab and some pretty tasty rice pudding to finish off the meal.

The cost of the buffet on the weekends is $11.99 -- a great deal considering, and it's never very crowded which is really a shame considering the quality of the food in the buffet. I've never been to the buffet during the week, though. I'd imagine that the lunch crowd during the week is heavier, plus it's only $8.99 -- perhaps someone can leave a comment speaking to the quality of the selection of dishes during the week vs. the weekend.

4904 Fairmont Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 718-0121

1222 W Broad St
Falls Church, VA 22046
(703) 533-3501


I had a chance to stop by Rasika last Saturday. I love Indian food, and as soon as I heard that a new restaurant was opening, I had to go and see what it was like. I was also curious what Sebastian, the former wine and service director at Komi, was doing at an Indian restaurant of all places. It was only the second week that Rasika had been open, so I'll try not to be too judgmental.

First the good: Penn Quarter is really a hip neighborhood now (not that I actually know what "hip" is anymore, what with being a new dad). The crowd there was pleasant and the atmosphere elegant. Yet everyone seemed fairly casual, which I kind of liked. Most people were wearing jeans, but some were a little dressier. I saw the occasional Sari. There's a huge bar area with short, small tables that are fairly...quaint, but probably hard on the knees to sit at for too long. I'm encouraged to see places like Rasika and Indeblu opening -- it goes a long way in saying that people are recognizing Indian food as "upscale" cuisine.

As far as the food goes, the highlight of the evening was my Lamb Shank Rogan Josh, which at $19 was a pretty good deal. The portion was large and the lamb was extremely tender but not overdone. The sauce it was served in was plenty spicy which I appreciate.

The menu also seems pretty adventurous, with dishes that aren't seen at other Indian restaurants like fish manga, a sea bass with curry leaves and onion and mango. I also saw some people at the next table order the Palak Chaat, an appetizer made of crispy spinach, yogurt and date chutney -- they were going simply gah-gah over it. If I return, I'll have to try it.

I actually had my first dessert at an Indian restaurant that I enjoyed. The Apple Jalebi was just what we needed after our meal. Unlike most Indian desserts, it wasn't overly sweet because the apple gave it that little bit of tart flavor. The apple was deep fried in a sweet, honey  and saffron-flavored batter and then served with cardamon ice cream. 

Other than that though, I wasn't overly impressed. The Trio of Chicken Tikka that Amy ordered was too small and she was left kind of hungry. There were three flavors in the dish: chili, cheese and basil. Both the chili and basil chicken were flavorful, and the chicken was very tender, but the cheese just tasted like plain chicken. Our appetizer, the Sev Batati Puri, while a good idea in theory, was weak in flavor. Rasika is a bit more expensive than other Indian restaurants, but I think you're paying for the atmosphere -- which can be worth it depending on how you feel about such things.

And how is the new Sommelier doing at pairing wines with Indian food? Well, the earthy bottle of Buttonwood Cabernet Franc that Sebastian brought us to go with both of our dishes went great with Amy's chicken, but kind of overpowered my already spicy Rogan Josh. I guess one for two isn't bad -- it's much better than I've ever been able to do. At Rasika, the wine list that Sebastian has selected is is quite huge and has many amazing wines on it, as I'd expect from his influence.

So that's pretty much all I have to say. I encourage you all to stop by and see what Rasika is like for yourselves. It has a good deal of promise and I think that if you order wisely, you'll really enjoy yourself.

633 D Street NW
Washington, DC
(202) 637-1222

Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Mon - Thu: 5:30pm - 10:30pm
Fri and Sat: 5:30pm - 11:00pm

Dress Code: Business Casual - I wore "nice" jeans with a sport coat.
Smoking: Allowed at the bar.
Closest Metro: Gallery Place or National Archives.
Parking: Valet Parking is available. I wouldn't bother trying to find parking on your own in this area.
Reservations: Taken. Use OpenTable.
Baby-Friendly Rating: 1 out of 4 diapers. As with most places like this, I probably wouldn't take Noah there, mainly because the atmosphere is just way too nice to bring a baby too.

India Grill

It's been long agreed upon by most Indian food fanatics like myself, that Bombay Bistro was the reigning king of Indian food in Rockville. While Bombay Bistro is very good, I think that the owners have put all of their money into Indique, which opened last year (I think - timing?) on Connecticut Ave. In the mean time, Bombay Bistro is starting to look a bit run down. The last time I was there, the restaurant almost seemed filthy to me. While the food is still very good, the restaurant itself definitely looked like it could use a good hosing down.

In the mean time, India Grill has moved to a new location, a few blocks away from India Bistro on Rockville Pike in the shopping center behind the IHOP. Our first trip, Amy and I had a chance to stop by India Grill for lunch and I was pleasantly surprised at how good all of our food was. The new location is newly renovated and elegant looking. Better's clean.

We were tempted to just get the lunch buffet, but I wanted to try something besides the usual choices of daal, channa masala, vegetable saag, and chicken curry. We both ordered Mahkani dishes: paneer and chicken.

"How would you like your dishes?" The waiter asked. "Mild, medium, or hot."

"We'll have them medium." I replied. I love it when an Indian restaurant asks you how you want your food cooked. They almost always make the food too mild. The medium actually wasn't that hot for me, but everyones taste is different. The tomato-based mahkani sauce was thick but not overly creamy or salty. So much of the Indian food that I've eaten lately is way too salty and I found it refreshing to actually taste the flavor of the tomato and Indian spices in the sauce.

I'm not sure what it is, but sometimes it seems like Indian restaurants get their bread from an Indian grocer's freezer. This was not the case at India Grill, where the Poori and Paratha we ordered were quite fresh and seemed like they'd just been made.  Amy and I thought the paratha was a little dry, though.

Service is prompt and gracious, but perhaps a little too gracious if you know what I mean. For example, at the end of our first meal at India Grill, our server left the check and I put my credit card in it. When the server returned, he asked if he could take the check. I wanted to say, "I wouldn't have put my credit card there if I wasn't ready for you to take it." Anyway, it's a pet peeve of mine so don't pay much attention to it. I was never so nice when I was a waiter, but I guess an overly polite wait staff is better than a rude wait staff.

A few nights later, Amy and I returned to India Grill for dinner. There was no wait for a table, but the restaurant had a decent crowd with most of the tables filled. We sat outside on the small patio which has about five or six tables where you only have a view of the parking lot and other stores, but still, and outdoor patio in this part of Rockville is a rarity.

This time, Amy ordered the buffet which, I should mention, is available for dinner as well as lunch. She found that the buffet food was very mild, but given the fact that she was having Braxton-Hicks contractions at the time and wasn't feeling all that wonderful, she didn't really mind at all. I went with my all time favorite Indian dish -- lamb rogan josh.

For an appetizer, I chose the Paneer Pakora, (moist chunks of Indian cheese deep fried in a chick pea batter seasoned with curry) which were ideally cooked. Every other time I've ordered this dish at other places, the chef overcooks the cheese leaving a rubbery, burnt mess for me to eat. India Grill's chefs are able to keep the cheese moist and succulent while having a crispy exterior on the batter. If this dish was all I ever ate at India Grill, I'd be satisfied.

The lamb rogan josh was simple but good. Again, the sauce of the curry wasn't too creamy and I could really taste and smell all of the spices that made up the dish like cardamon and coriander. I ordered it medium spicy again and it certainly came out that way. It was spicy enough to make my nose run a little, but I think I can handle some more heat. Next time, I'm going to go for hot.

India Grill
785 Rockville Pike # K
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 279-7700

Dress Code: Casual
Smoking: Not Allowed
Closest Metro: Rockville
Parking: There's lots of parking on the shopping center parking lot where the restaurant is located.
Reservations: Probably taken, but there's no need
Amy's Bathroom Rating: Clean but typical of an Indian restaurant.

Indian Lunch

All that posting about the Indian Kabab Dinner made me starving for Indian Food, so I followed through on my plans to eat Indian for lunch. We ended up going to Indique and luckily the weather held off long enough for us to finish our lunch outside on the balcony with a nice view of Cleveland Park. I ended up having the Chicken Tikka Makhani, the Mini Dosa, and a couple glasses of Viognier and I can't think of a better lunch I could've had today. It was very  yummy! Check out the pix I took in my photo album.

Passage to India

As many of you know already, Chef Sudhir Seth changed the menu over at Passage to India in December. If you had been to Passage to India before then, you'd know that their menu prior to this was nothing to be ashamed of. Chef Sudhir took a risk by making the drastic changes to his menu that he has and I'm happy to report that the change of menu is definitely for the better.

The new menu is divided up among the different regions of India – North, South, East and West. Missing completely from the new menu are the usual Rogan Josh, Paneer Makhani, and Chicken Curry. If you look at the East and West section of the menu below, you'll see that a majority of the dishes can't be found at other Indian restaurants. With dishes like Shorshe Bata Mache and Panchphorner Parmal Shaak from the East or Salli Boti Jardaloo and Chutney Ni Murgi from the West, Chef Sudhir is giving us the chance to increase the depth of our taste buds.

Most dishes that we're all used seeing in Indian Cuisine are from the North and South of India. So if you are looking for some of the more traditional Indian dishes (traditional in the sense that they are more common to Indian restaurants in the DC area), you can order from the North and South menus. Passage to India still has Lamb Korma, which Chef Sudhir would be crazy to remove. I believe it's the best I've ever tasted. One of Phyllis Richman's recent articles backs this opinion up as well. Also, the classic Chicken Tikka-Masala still remains on the menu. Chef Sudhir says, "I originally wanted to leave it (chicken tikka-masala) off, but people complained enough about us not having it, that I had to leave it on."

Here's the menu:
Entrees - North and South
Entrees - East and West
Tandoor, Breads, Accompaniments

Now that I've told you about the menu, let me tell you about my experiences there. Sadly, our first attempt in December at sampling the new menu wasn't very successful. We were very excited to try the menu and there were many dishes that we wanted to try – So many, in fact, we couldn't decide which to order. Instead, we both decided to order one of the chef's samplers. The chef's samplers weren't a sample of the dishes that we'd wanted to try unfortunately. Most of them were the dishes that we'd had before. DOH! So if there was one thing I'd improve, it would definitely be the sampler dishes – but that's about it.

Our second attempt two Fridays ago went much smoother. Luckily, we made a reservation for 8:30 PM, because when we arrived, they were pretty busy. This time we ordered differently. For an appetizer, I went for the Crab Masala. For $7.95, you get jumbo lump crab meat mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, tumeric, and other Indian spices wrapped in a papadam. The crab was very tender (and no shell!) and much better than I thought it would have been – plus Chef Sudhir didn't scrimp with the lump crab. Amy ordered the Samosa Chaat which is actually another dish carried over from the previous menu. We'd had it before, and as last time, it was wonderful. The samosa was full of spices and it was topped with just the right amount of chutney sauces. Other restaurants tend to pour on the chutneys and raita, which turns this dish into more of a soup than anything else. The samosa also came on top of a bed of chana (chick peas with curry).  One other thing worth noting is that Passage to India's samosas are never greasy which is a common complaint we have at other Indian restaurants. Each appetizer came with a small side salad which you could actually eat and use to cleanse your palate. At most Indian restaurants, the garnishes are barely edible.

Now I get to the good part - the entrees. My entrée, off the West menu called Chutney Ni Murgi, was an interesting chicken dish served in a green, homemade chutney cilantro curry sauce. The menu referred to it as a Parsi delicacy. This wasn't the spiciest Indian dish I've ever had, but not every Indian dish needs to take a layer of cells off your esophagus for it to taste good. I'm sure the next time I go, if I want it spicier, they'll gladly make it so. (Hehe, “Number One, I'd like my Chutney Ni Murgi extra spicy this time - Make it so.”) I really thought this dish made the meal for me. The chicken was lean and very tender. I also had a side of the aloo paratha to go with it. For those of you who don't know, aloo paratha is a potato-filled whole wheat bread. The potato filling is pretty much the same thing as the filling that goes into a vegetable samosa.  I like to take a mixture of the curry and chicken, mix it with some rice, put it on a piece of the bread and shove it in my mouth. It makes for a great combination, although it can be quite messy sometimes.

Amy had the Makhmali Kofta off of the North menu, which is called Malai Kofta at other Indian restaurants we've been to. The prime ingredient in this dish is the vegetable dumplings with a mixture of ground vegetables formed into balls and fried. They are then mixed in a yogurt and coconut-based sauce with a mixture of spices. Amy commented to me that she thought the dumplings were a little dry, but when I tasted it, I thought they were perfect. They had soaked up the sauce nicely.

Once we were done with our meal, Chef Sudhir came out to say hello. It turns out he's a regular reader of this site. Go me! We talked to him about the new menu and congratulated him on the successful change of format. He mentioned that the weekends are usually crowded, but during the week they aren't very busy. So if you are looking for a good mid-week meal, or you want to avoid the weekend crowd, try going during the week.

We had our usual rice pudding for dessert, which was dumb. Chef Sudhir actually has some desserts that sound really interesting, unlike most Indian restaurants. We really should have tried the Indian carrot pudding or fresh mango with nutmeg flavored yogurt. Better yet, we should have had the bread pudding. AAEEEEHHH! I can't believe I missed that. Oh well. Next time.

I'll be returning soon to try some of the other dishes that peaked my interest. Our last trip, the bill was fairly reasonable at around $80. That included a Taj Mahal, a Paul Smith Organic lager (which I have to say is a great beer!),  2 appz, 2 entrees, and a single dessert.  Compared to other Indian restaurants in the area like Haandi, Heritage India and Indique, it is pretty much equal in price. All of these places are a bit more expensive than your average Indian take-away on the corner, but they are well worth the extra cost.

See my previous post on Passage to India for full restaurant details.

Heritage India - Dupont

So far, I've been to the Dupont location of Heritage India twice. Both times I've had some excellent Indian food that I've wanted to write about since the first time I went there a few weeks ago. I just haven't had any time.

To start with, the Dupont location of Heritage is not just another location for Heritage India with the same menu. The first way it is different is with the menu which features a tapas menu that takes up an entire page. Also, some of the entrees are different. In particular, there are a few prawn dishes, a couple new curries and kabobs. Our first night there, we were having a drink at the bar after our meal was over, and we saw the manager having the jumbo tandoori prawns. I haven't been brave enough to try them yet, but they're literally the size of a small lobster. The bartender said it was one of the restaurants specialties.

The second way this location of Heritage India is different from the others is in the area of service. As most of you know, and have commented, the service at the Glover Park location of Heritage India is lacking in some ways. It's almost like they know their food is good so they don't feel like they have to provide good service to go along with it. At the Dupont location, however, the wait staff is gracious and friendly. Your food comes out quick and if they make a mistake, they are quick to fix it. I've heard a few stories from people about rude service from the Glover Park location and I've experienced some myself. But, it's Heritage India and the food is awesome so we all continue to go back...

Also, the Dupont location has a drink menu...but I'd stay away from it. The drinks on it are entirely too sweet. Maybe they thought they needed to make the drinks sweet to compliment the spicy food, I don't know. Either way they're bad. I'm sure they added the drink menu to compete with Indique's drink menu, but there is some definite room for improvement (like the addition of a mango lassi drink like the one I had at Tallula a few weeks ago).

The first time Amy and I went to the Dupont location, we stayed away from any entrees and ordered competely off their tapas menu. The tapas menu features some dishes that I've only been able to get at the Indian Street Food Event earlier this year at Passage to India -- and some more. To start with, they have Pav Bhaji (spelled Pav Bhaji on the menu, but I swore it was spelled Pau Bhaji, but after searching online, it looks like it IS called pav bhaji). It's a spicy vegetable curry served on a few dinner rolls or hamburger buns. We've had this both times we've gone and it was nice and spicy both times. Also, we had some channa masala. It was served identically to the pav bhaji on dinner rolls - It was plenty spicy as well. Let's see, what else did we have...Oh right, the Frankie. The Frankie is much like a wrap that you would see at any chain restaurant around here, but it is made with Indian flat bread, peppers, onions, and Indian cheese, and then grilled. Very Good! It's also available with chicken I believe. Also, we had a spicy chicken curry atop of a polenta cake of all things. This is an interesting idea, and I see that they're working in a little fusion cooking here. The chicken curry is more like a spicy butter chicken than anything else and you can see the red chili floating in the sauce. It actually was pretty spicy and lit us up a bit. "Keep the water coming please!" Finally we ordered some papri chaat. This is something that you can get at Passage to India and Indique. I only discovered this dish at the Indian Street Food Event and have been ordering it at every restaurant I see it at since. You really can't go wrong with this dish unless you leave it sitting around and let it get soggy, but it has tasted pretty much the same anywhere I've ordered it.

If you stick to just ordering tapas, you can get away with a fairly reasonably priced trip to Heritage India - A nice change of pace from our past $100 or more checks. If I remember correctly, our the bill for our first trip ran us about $60 for two glasses of wine and 5 tapas. The tapas all run about $4 to $10. Heritage India (Dupont location only) also runs a special from 5 pm to 7 pm where the tapas are half price with drink specials as well.

Our second trip we actually ordered some entrees and started with some pav bhaji and some papri chaat as well. I tried moving away from ordering curries again and ordered the tandoori rockfish kabab. Unlike the Glover Park location, all entrees at the Dupont Circle location actually come with rice and daal now, a very welcome change in my opinion. (Of course they are probably just charging another dollar or two on every entree to make up for it.)  Any had her usual saag paneer and she loved it as usual. Also, my kabob was pretty good. In general, I like fish cooked more on the medium/medium rare side than well done, and the rockfish on this kabab was pretty well done. I guess there is not much of a choice when you are cooking a small amount of fish in a tandoor oven though. On a whole, most dishes at the Dupont location are, by default, spicier than those at the Glover Park location. This is a welcome change because I would always have to ask for the chef to make my food a little spicier at the Glover Park location. Our second trip's bill ran us about $85 and included a bottle of wine, two orders of bread, two entrees, two appetizers, and an order of rice pudding.

So my final judgment is that the Dupont location of Heritage India is a welcome addition to the DC Indian food scene. All I need now is an Indian restaurant to open within walking distance of my place I'll be all set.

Heritage India - Dupont Location
1337 Connecticut Ave
Washington, DC
(202) 331-1414

Glover Park Location
2400 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC
(202) 333-3120

Valet Parking: Yes
Dress Code: Casual ( little more on the business casual side though, especially at the Glover Park location)
I'm trying to find the Dupont Locations hours of operation. I will post them when I find them.
Reservations: Taken

Passage to India

About a month ago, you might have noticed that I wrote a post about how I ate three Indian Meals in 36 hours. One of those meals, you might remember was at Passage to India. You will also remember that I said that I had a great meal there. Well, Amy and I went again last Monday, and it was yet again...wonderful.

This time, we went for Brunch...Well, I guess it doesn't really count as "going for brunch" when you only intend to go out for lunch, and when you get there, they happen to be serving brunch. None the less, we were happy to see that Passage to India was serving brunch and we decided to order it (just a side note, the brunch is not normally avaialable on Monday, but since it was Labor Day, they were serving it again). As we were ordering, the couple at the table near us was finishing up and raving about how good their meal was. There were about 10 people in the restaurant, and everyone looked very satisfied.

Appetizers2The brunch offering at Passage to India starts with an appetizer sampler with mini samosas, Indian chicken salad, and those onion fritter things (I'm forgetting the exact name for them right this minute). They also give you two sauces to eat them with - One a plum sauce and the other a raita. The raita went especially well with the chicken salad. In the picture on the right, you can see the chicken salad on the left and the samosas and onion fritters on the right. Nothing's really new or different here. These are your typical Indian restaurant appetizers, and they would probably be safe just serving the samosas, since they are probably our favorite samosas around. Honestly though, I would rather see some of the chaat that we saw at the Indian Street Food event, but I understand why they serve the appetizers they do.

For the entree, you have a choice of chicken tikka masala or lamb korma. On top of that, they bring out  daal and saag. Mix them all together, and you get a pretty good combination. The lamb korma here is one of my favorite around as far as kormas go. The sauce the lamb is in is very creamy and spicy. It is very similar to that of Heritage India (which makes sense since Passage to India used to be a Heritage India), except it is spicier and hence - better. CurriesI had the lamb korma the last time we went to Passage to India, and it was a little better, if I remember correctly. On the left you can see what my plate looked like. From left to right, you see the korma, daal and saag. Amy ordered the chicken tikka masala, and it was good as well. We also love the saag dishes here. Last time, Amy ordered the saag paneer and absolutely loved it.

There was no bread included in the brunch, so we ordered some paratha, which I have to say is right on as far as I think paratha is supposed to be made (at least as far as my limited knowedge of Indian food goes).  For dessert, Passage to India includes two dishes of rice pudding. Once again this was very good as well. I could taste the strong cardamon flavor and it was very creamy. Mixed in with it were pistachios and raisins - A very nice touch I have to say.

One thing about Passage to India - They charge you for rice. This is the same practice that Heritage India follows and it drives me nuts. Update: Passage to India not longer charges for rice on their new menu.

The brunch cost $24.95 for two people, plus the cost of the bread and coffee we ordered. The coffee, I have to say, was very strong which we appreciated very much. Not a bad deal for a Sunday (or Monday) brunch for two. I also shouldn't forget to mention how good the service is at Passage to India. The servers are very attentive, timely and gracious.

Passage to India
4931 Cordell Ave
Bethesda, MD
(301) 656-3373
Dress Code: Business Casual (Although I have worn jeans and fit right in)
Mon-Fri: 11:30am-2:30pm
Sun: noon-3 pm
Sun-Thu: 5:30-10:30pm
Fri-Sat: 5:30-11pm

See what Monica Bhide wrote about Passage to India at the Washingtonian.