Rasika is not only the best Indian restaurant in Washington, but, according to many food writers, the best Indian restaurant in the United States. Rasika’s Vikram Sunderam is a winner of the James Beard award for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.
A few years ago, Rasika’s owner, Ashok Bajaj, opened a second site in DC’s West End, serving many of the same dishes, and many new ones as well. I have fond memories of any number of great meals at the original Rasika, but somehow hadn’t tried its offspring until now. I finally made it to Rasika West.
President Obama celebrated his birthday at Rasika twice, and the Clintons celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary at Rasika West. Other repeat customers include Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, and Julia Roberts.
This is it.
Palak Chaat is the star of the show, the dish that made Rasika famous.
The main ingredient is fried spinach, but that’s just the beginning. Here’s a brief description, taken from an NPR article, of what comes next:
“He also makes a beautiful yellow-orange batter with gram flour, turmeric and chili powder. He pours this over the spinach, almost like a salad dressing, and lightly tosses it. Once the spinach is perfectly crispy, it gets a cascade of toppings, including roasted cumin powder, chili powder and black salt; drizzles of yogurt and tamarind chutney; and sprinkles of chopped red onion and tomatoes. The restaurant makes about 200 bowls of this a day — every other table orders it.”
The combination of ingredients makes every bite unique. This dish is a stunner, and should rank high on anyone’s try-it-before-you-die list.
I knew I wanted lamb for the main, so I asked my server to explain the difference between Lamb Mirchi Korma and Lamb Bengali Curry, the lamb choices on the menu. He told me that Lamb Mirchi Korma was the hotter, spicier of the two.
I like to live dangerously.
My fork-tender Lamb Mirchi Korma featured caramelized onions, Kashmiri chili, and Sichuan pepper, and came with the customary rice and naan. Delightful.
The honey fig ice cream palate cleanser was like the calm after a storm.