Sunday Spice in Glover Park

Posted by Abbott Klar Real Estate on Sunday, April 21st, 2013 at 6:54am

Sunday Spice in Glover Park
by Danielle Dellerson

Brunch spots abound in Washington, D.C.—a treasure trove of egg bennies, bacon, and towering stacks of pillowy pancakes, often served up with copious mimosa refills.  But if you want to avoid falling into a brunch rut, swap your standard Sunday fare for a tidal wave of flavors from the south of India, which, according to my taste buds, is the center of the spice universe. 

And good news—this universe is now conveniently located in Glover Park with the opening of Malgudi, the newest venture from the owners of Heritage India, which is located just above the Malgudi space at 2400 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Even better news—Malgudi’s brunch offerings include bottomless mimosas—which will come in handy for cooling down the slow-building heat as you work your way through crêpe-like dosas filled with spiced meats (or veggies, if you prefer) and kotthu poratta with tender chunks of flatbread and chicken. 

Before stumbling upon Malgudi, I thought I knew Indian food—tandoori chicken, tikka masala, rogan josh, samosas.  But none of these familiar items are on the menu here, which very astutely educates diners about the lesser-known cuisine of South India with explanations of the flavors and spices of each dish along with some cultural context.  (Sidenote: you can find all those better-known Indian dishes upstairs at Heritage India, which also offers a bottomless mimosa/bloody mary brunch on the weekend).

My brunch buddy (because “significant other” sounds so boring) and I worked up our appetites with a morning hike through Rock Creek Park before circling the U.S. Naval Observatory (a.k.a. the Veep’s digs) and dropping down into Glover Park with growling stomachs.  Within minutes we were toasting the beautiful spring day with cool, bubbly mimosas while we pored over Malgudi’s menu.

We started with an order of idli—steamed rice cakes served with a trifecta of all-stars: sambhar, coconut chutney, and spicy tomato chutney.  The rice cakes had a nice soft, chewy consistency, but they are really just the vehicle for the sambhar and chutneys.  Sambhar, for the uninitiated like me, is a “generously spiced” creamy lentil stew with chunks of veggies and curry leaves.  It provided just the right amount of heat to the rice cakes and contrasted beautifully with the cool, slightly sweet coconut chutney.

My singular favorite was the spicy tomato chutney, but perhaps the best bites included a little of all three accompaniments.  Some might consider this too much taste bud chaos, but others will find a symphony of spice, masterfully quieted with a sip of your frequently-refilled  mimosa.

Our lamb dosa and chicken kotthu poratta arrived just in time to prevent us from spooning the remaining chutneys directly into our mouths (luckily, more came with our meals).

We both sat in shock for a moment appreciating the dosa’s formidable size before gently tearing off pieces of the crêpe-like shell, careful not to let too much of the spicy ground lamb filling escape before its final destination.  For me, the dosa had to take a couple of detours to the chutney bowls first, although it packed a powerful flavor punch on its own.

Shifting my focus to the kotthu poratta, I found a delightful marrying of flavors in what I can best describe as a sort of hash with chunks of seasoned flatbread and, in my case, chicken, along with ground up bits of egg and … to be honest, I have no idea what else was in there, but I can tell you it was delicious.  Even better with a dab of the raita (yogurt sauce) that comes with it and provides the yin for the poratta’s spicy yang.

Despite feeling full about halfway through our meal, we finished.  Every.  Last.  Bite.  It was a meal worthy of the “brunch baby” it gave me for the next hour or so.  Glover Park bonus: we spied Jill Biden across the street on our way out.  I almost offered some unsolicited advice:  you’ve gotta try Malgudi, Jill!

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