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The Dish: tandoori shrimp

The Location: Tiffin, the Indian Kitchen, 1341 University Blvd., Takoma Park, (301) 434-9200.

The Price: $18.95

The Skinny: After learning the kitchen has run out of mahi mahi, which puts the kibosh on my wish for Tiffin’s tandoori fish, I switch to the crustaceans. “It’s dry,” the waiter immediately injects. I give him a look, and he clarifies. “The dish comes without sauce,” he says, stating the obvious about almost every tandoor dish. When the shrimp arrive on a steaming cast-iron plate, all curled up on a bed of onions and bell-pepper slices, I realize the waiter has done the entree a great disservice. Yes, it’s sauce-less, but those glistening turmeric-tinted crustaceans, each perfectly de-veined, are dusted with a pungent curry powder that adds more flavor than a lot of sauces I’ve sampled. These big, meaty morsels pack some serious heat, a garlic-and-ginger wallop, and yet their fieriness is cut with some of India’s earthier spices—cardamom, cloves, and even a bit of cinnamon. The dish is a reminder, as if we needed another one, that Indian chefs cook with heat better than just about any other cuisine.