June 2002: Cafe Taj
This attractive Indian restaurant has been a culinary bright spot in McLean, an area relatively lacking in restaurants, for a decade.
This attractive Indian restaurant has been a culinary bright spot in McLean, an area relatively lacking in restaurants, for a decade. The most popular offerings here, as in most Indian restaurants, are tandoori dishes, flavorful from their marinades and moist from having been cooked quickly at intense heat. The tandoori chicken is very good here, but for a variation try the Noorani Kabob, chicken marinated in almond paste. Lamb chops from the tandoor are terrific—the spicy version is a house specialty—and there's moist and delicious salmon and a succulent thick cut of beef.
The curry selection is extensive—Butter Chicken in a subtly spiced tomato sauce; ginger chicken with fresh ginger, tomatoes, and onions; tangy lamb or chicken vindaloo; chicken Jalfrezy stir-fried with vegetables; and rogan josh cooked in a curried yogurt sauce. The breads, one of the glories of Indian cookery, are delicious here. The best way to enjoy them is to order the bread-basket sampler, but tell your waiter to include the Kashmiri nan, stuffed with cashews and dried fruit, and the superb fresh-garlic kulcha. Indian Kingfisher beer is the perfect drink with this spicy cuisine; for a nonalcoholic alternative, try a lassi, a cooling yogurt drink that may be ordered sweet or salty.