Friday, January 14, 2011

Aditi Indian Kitchen - Union Station 1/14/2010

Aditi Indian Kitchen
Union Station Food Court - Lower Level
50 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002

I went to the Union Station Food Court today to have lunch with a friend. He wanted to go to Aditi Indian Kitchen, and, not too thrilled with the other options, decided to get food with him. I had been to Aditi Indian Kitchen before, both here and the one in Grand Central in New York (I guess they found a niche serving curries in mass transit hubs), and I find this chain to be consistently one of the better places to eat in the Food Court. Obviously, this isn't Rasika, so don't expect Haute Bengali cuisine, but the food isn't overtly Americanized either. The korma isn't saccharine, the paneer isn't gloopy, the curries have heat, and everything seems generally well prepared. Also, because Indian cuisine often involve stews and braises, it tends to stand up better to the constant low heat of chafing dishes, and thus tends to be a better option when you are in a food court. Of course, I doubt this is quintessentially "Indian" cuisine (they do serve chicken tikka masala...which is to Anglicized Indian Cuisine what General Tso's Chicken is to Americanized Chinese Cuisine), but neither is Rasika, and if you choose to defenestrate ideas of authenticity, you can get a satisfying meal.

Today, I ordered the Chicken Biryani, the Channa Paneer (Chickpeas and Creamed Spinach) and a Chicken Coconut Curry. My friend ordered the same. I was actually caught off guard by the heat and had to take a sip of water to quell it. I am not sure whether this is a symptom of me no longer eating as much Korean food as I used to or whether my age has decreased my heat resistance, but my tolerance for spiciness has declined precipitously. Perhaps, this is also a symptom of getting spicier dishes in general from restaurants; it might be the case that the proprietors are no longer concerned about appealing to a preconceived notion of what Americans like and instead realize that most Americans crave food as spicy as those prepared traditionally at home. I remember a time when a "spicy" order of anything involved a ladleful of ketchup glaze poured over an entree. Now, especially with the broadening of the American palate to include more exotic flavors (and flavor in general), I find "spicy" entrees to be legitimately piquant and flavorful.

Generally, the Paneer was good (though no better than creamed spinach you can get anywhere else, say a Boston Market for example), Chicken Coconut Curry nice and spicy, and the Biryani well seasoned and pretty flavorful. The bread (roti, didn't seem leavened like naan) was a little limp and soggy, but edible enough. Service was quick and efficient.

As an aside, the Union Station Food Court has a store that serves some of the best doughnuts in the District (and some of the best doughnuts I've ever had). It is called Nothing But Donuts and is near the escalator next to the downstairs Metro entrance. Everything can be recommended, though I like the standard glazed doughnuts and the Eclairs. (and don't get me started - it's spelled "doughnuts" in a pastry made out of a nut of dough. The insidiousness of commercials, I tell ya).

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