Turning up the culinary heat can be tricky. Authentic spicing may challenge some Western palates, but go easy on the fire and accusations of dumbing-down start flying. This Punjabi eatery is willing to have it both ways. Say the word, in fact, and the kitchen will muster up all the chili-fueled power in its arsenal for a dish like goat curry with bone-in hunks of meat—not only is it a scorcher, but it also delivers a serious hit of vinegar. Tamer but no less delicious is the colorful rice biryani, with hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and herbs. The kitchen has a nice touch with pakoras and samosas, and breads from the tandoor are made with care—hot and glistening with butter. The naan is among the best around, but the onion kulcha is even better.
Where you can get it: 23520 Overland Dr., Dulles; 703-996-8810
Also good: Bhindi masala, a stew of okra, tomato, and onion; samosa chaat, with tamarind and yogurt; dal tarka, with yellow lentils and ginger; kadai goat; tandoori lamb chops.