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We walked into Tandoori Time with a craving for a rich and piquant Indian dinner. Undoubtedly, we were the only customers in the entire restaurant. The dazed bartender stared at the empty seats, wiping off areas that he had already cleaned. The slouching waiter greeted us with much anticipation.

We were seated immediately at one of the many open tables and were given two of the cleanest water glasses that I have ever seen—probably the bartender’s doing. Jordan spent the time photographing the glass in black and white—he could find art on the bottom of my shoe—, while I perused the menu.

I looked past the kabobs, the lentil soups, and the seafood, spotting the true test of an Indian restaurant: Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish so otherworldly that the restaurant’s description said only: “Charcoal cooked pieces of chicken in a special sauce”. Of course, it was not the elegant language that enticed me; “charcoal” and “cooked” are hardly words that make me salivate.

The Chicken Tikka Masala was flavorful, and—I will admit—“special” without being overly rich, while the onions and peppers gave texture to the sauce. However, I prefer the chicken to be cooked in the sauce, so that the sauce not only flavors the meat; it tenderizes it.

We had Lamb Karahi, mildly spiced (for an Indian) and cooked with tomatoes, onions, and peppers. It had a sweeter taste with spice that hit your palate at the end. The flavor of the rice was fortified with fennel seeds and each granule doubled as a tiny vehicle for the sauce to cling on to on its way to my mouth. The lightly flavored Naan had great air pockets and was slightly chewy.

I am almost certain that Indians have an unspoken rule to constantly fill someone’s glass with water. Maybe, they’re afraid we’ll notice that our glass is half-full and leave the restaurant in outrage, dropping a penny as a tip in the little water that is left.

We truly had a relaxing and enjoyable meal, chasing the low-lying, cowering sauce on our plates with pieces of Naan. The waiter mentioned the dessert menu. Notwithstanding the fact that Indian desserts are notoriously nasty, the names are unappetizing: “Gulab”, “Burfi”, and “Badam”. “Excuse me waiter, I’ll have the Glob, the Barf, and the Bottom”. I don’t think so! I will stick to my Chicken Tikka Masala.

1140 19 St. NW.

Washington, DC 20036

http://www.tandooritimedc.com

 

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