The Dish: dum aloo

The Location: Tandoori Nights, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., No. 900, Arlington, (703) 248-8333. Also in Gaithersburg.

The Price: $9.95

The Skinny: Surrounded on all sides by some of the goliaths of American business—Barnes & Noble, Crate & Barrel, Apple—Tandoori Nights would seem the 99-pound weakling in the display of corporate muscle that is the Market Common in Clarendon. That the stylish, colorful restaurant doesn’t wither in the face of all this ostentation says a lot about owner Anil Miglani‘s ambitions for his upscale Indian eatery, which he launched in 2001 with the first Tandoori Nights in Kentlands. The kitchen here shows just as much gumption. The specialty of the house is a dish called dum aloo, essentially potatoes (aloo is Hindi for potato) steamed in a pot sealed with dough (a process known as dum). Sous chef Sunil Bastola takes the perfectly cooked spuds, lightly fries them, stuffs ’em with seasoned, crumbly paneer, and buries these starch containers under a decadent cream-and-yogurt sauce perfumed with a blend of sweet and pungent spices. This is the kind of rich we can all live with.

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