Restaurant Review: BELTWAY BURN – Part 1
For anyone living around the Capitol Beltway (Washington DC area), or just passing through, here is the first in a series of restaurant reviews designed to help you find great spicy food just minutes off the Interstate in Northern Virginia.
I’m hoping this will be useful to chiliheads up and down the East Coast, because sooner or later, your travels might very well bring you through the DC area on I-95.
Yeah, there are plenty of BBQ joints around here, but I want to start out with an Indian place that has been open a year in Lorton, VA, less than ten minutes North of Quantico Marine Base or South of the I-95/495 “Mixing Bowl”, and just a few hundred yards off the highway. You need to know about My Karma Indian Bistro because; a.) they have some of the best Indian food in the DC metro area and; b.) they are happy to indulge your craving for heat!
The owner, Subhash Gavri, is there most of the time, so be sure to introduce yourself and tell him you love hot, spicy food. He will be happy to make some recommendations. If you have a really good tolerance for heat, make sure he knows what you mean by “spicy”. His Nepalese chef has a heat scale that stops at “double spice”. Insist on a “triple spice level” if you want to be scorched. On my umpteenth visit recently with fellow chilihead and bon vivant, Bob Linn, we came up with the following recommendations:
For an incredible variety of flavors and spices, you have to get a few things that are not scorchers. The best feed on the menu, which is great for sharing, is the Tandoori Mixed Grill, shown here:
This is a sizzling platter of meats and seafood, each one spiced or marinated in its own unique way. Because of the intense heat of the Tandoori oven, these items cook in a matter of a few minutes and they are incredibly tender and moist. Sizzling beneath all of those goodies are lots of sliced onions. I guess you could say this is like an Indian version of fajita.
Be sure to get a basket of the Nan (Indian bread made fresh in the clay Tandoori oven). My two favorites are Garlic Nan and Onion Kulcha. Here, they are served with my favorite spicy dish from My Karma ““ Chicken Vindaloo.
Vindaloo is traditionally a style of cooking that surrounds a meat (such as Tandoori-roasted chicken) and potatoes with a hot, spicy sauce. Sometimes, there are tomatoes in the sauce, sometimes not, and usually it has a touch of vinegar. The version that I tried for the first time at My Karma a year ago has brought me back there at least once a month! Don’t pass up the vegetable dishes, which can be spiced up on request. They are incredibly flavorful, using spinach, eggplant, okra, onions, tomatoes, chick peas and lentils, to name a few.
For those chiliheads who are unfamiliar with Indian cuisine and might have been reluctant to try it, My Karma is the perfect place to give it a whirl. Subhash is a friendly, informative host. For those who know their Indian food, you will be duly impressed too. It is well worth your making a stop and I would bet once you eat there, you will plan your next trip thru DC to coincide with the lunch or dinner hour.
For information and directions, go to www.mykarmabistro.com .