Thursday, March 29, 2007

Indian Luxe in the Capital

I don't eat Indian enough. I've rarely found myself in the mood ever since I left Atlanta 5 years ago. There I had a set of reliable places like the cheap, but tasty Zyka, which was located in a former church adjacent to a Montesouri School on Lawrenceville highway (in Decatur, GA). I went every other week, so I knew the menu, had my favorites and, still being fresh from college, was comfortable with the relatively cafeteria feel of the dining room. Now, whenever I think of Indian, the unfamiliarity of the dishes and the risks of new, more expensive venues (such as we have in Minneapolis) I'm not as motivated.

On my recent trip to Washington DC for the HRC Equality Convention, I took a chance by agreeing to have dinner with some of my fellow Minnesotan convention attendess (whom I did not know very well) to try a highly rated Indian gastronomic palace called Rasika. I'm so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.

The company was incredibly lively and intelligent - we discussed everything from politics to how the oil & water relationship one of my dining companions had with his partner resulted in an explosively vibrant sex life. No doubt the openess of the conversation was fueled by the incredibly flavorful food. We shared the three appetizers pictured here. The highlight was the Palak Chat - an impossible mixture of crispy fried spinach, sweet yogurt, tamerind and date chutney. We also had the Ragda Patties (spiced potato, tamerind date, chick peas with mint chutney) and an incredible tilapia grilled with currry spices in a banana leaf. My entree was a sinus clearing dish called Chicken Green Masala. I'm not sure how some mint, coriander and spices could come together as such a volcanic sauce. Not to say it wasn't a welcome experience. Spicy flavors activate pleasure centers in the brain - the plate was very clean.

The scene was definitely a see and be seen crowd - the decor uber modern and lively and the service was attentive, prompt and top notch. I'm a gainfully employed adult who values food, so the price didn't phase me (it also helped that one of my companions picked up the bill). Nevertheless, this was not the cheap Zyka Indian-in-the-Church-Hall from a prior time in my life, but I think we can all stand a little more luxe in our Indian cuisine.

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