Photo of chicken lolli dish by Joy Asico
Photo of chicken lolli dish by Joy Asico

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A chef who has cooked for several Indian prime ministers leads the kitchen at Karma Modern Indian, opening tonight in Mount Vernon Triangle. Chef Ajay Kumar is a native of New Delhi and his menu doesn’t hold back. Traditional bread is lathered in truffle oil, lobster instead of a lesser protein gets coated in masala, and halibut swims in coconut milk spiked with tamarind and turmeric.

The menu spans small plates like grilled paneer cheese in pesto ($10), tandoor specialities such as tandoori cauliflower ($14), breads, salads such as quinoa dotted with pistachios in a basil dressing ($15), and large dishes like venison peri-peri ($30) or lamb roganjosh ($24). The full menu is available online.

Owners Sachin Mahajan and Ricky Singh set out to open a restaurant that fuses Indian flavors with modern cooking techniques. Part of their vision is to put action behind the name of their restaurant by regularly donating a portion of sales to local and global charities including DC Central Kitchen and Save The Children. 

To pair with the food, bar director Dominik Lenikowski drew up a menu of classic and original cocktails. The “Karmic Energy” combines fig-infused vodka, Frangelico, and nitro brew coffee ($14) and the “What Goes Around Comes Around” contains gin, Barolo Chinato, sugar cane, lime juice, and rose-infused pepper bitters ($14).

Joy Asico

SWATCHROOM designed the predominantly blue and gold restaurant spread out over 5,000-square feet. There’s a bar and lounge area, a main dining room, a private dining room, and a bar along the open kitchen that seats 12. 

Karma Modern Indian opens tonight at 5 p.m. and regular hours of operation will be Sundays throughThursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The restaurant will be closed on Christmas.

Karma Modern Indian, 611 I St. NW; (202) 898-0393;