The Dish: crab tikki
The Location: Indique, 3512 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 244-6600
The Price: $7
The Skinny: For the obvious reasons, restaurants in the region, no matter what the cuisine, feel the need to add a crab cake to the menu. I’ve seen ‘em at barbecue joints, and I’ve seen ‘em at Irish pubs. Upscale Indian restaurants are not immune to the siren call of the crab cake. Rasika, for example, has a masala version. But K.N. Vinod, co-owner and chef at Indique in Cleveland Park, says his sub-continental crab cake was the first in town. I can’t substantiate that claim, but his crab tikki is definitely the tastiest and most original among the Indian interpretations I’ve tried. Vinod chops up lump meat, mixes it with crushed red peppers, shallots, and cilantro, and serves it with a coconut sambal that might be the most creative condiment I’ve ever seen. The cakes themselves release their flavors in succession: beginning with a quick flash of sweet crab meat, followed by the sweet heat of the shallots, and culminating with a three-alarm fire of red peppers. This is where the condiment comes in-the freshly grated coconut, tinted red with a combination of chilies and tomatoes, cuts the heat just enough to make the burn pleasurable, not painful.