Butter chicken—so-called for the smooth richness of its tangy tomato-and-yogurt gravy—is a good gateway dish for diners getting acquainted with Indian cooking. It’s also a safe harbor amid the scorching heat found on many Indian menus. The version at this Tenleytown storefront challenges convention. Its gravy is so vivid and zesty that you might wonder if it’s the same dish you’ve been eating for years. So it often goes at Masala Art, where familiar tastes—samosas, dal, and even naan—are rendered afresh thanks to Surinder Kumar, for many years the chef at Heritage India, a standard bearer in DC’s Glover Park. Owner Atul Bhola managed the dining room there for more than a decade. The duo gives the restaurant a one-two punch that’s almost as strong as one of its curries.
Don’t miss: Bhel puri; chickpea-and-onion fritters; sole curry; chicken in cashew-and-saffron curry; naan with rock salt and cilantro.