The first time I tried Indian food was in S. Africa. I had gone on a business trip and did a whirlwind tour - Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Each city had its own personality and each city had its own food culture. Whilst in Durban, I was told it had the highest concentration of Indians outside of India. I don't know if that is true, but it is true that I tried curry for the first time in Durban and loved it. My host took me to an authentic Indian restaurant one evening, where he knew the owner, and ordered for me. I don't recall what he ordered, but I do recall it was amazing. Everything he ordered, had a mild heat, as he didn't want to ruin my first experience with Indian food by making the heat unbearable. Interesting fact: by evening, the restauranteur ran his restaurant, and by day, he ran an auto repair shop. He was a customer of my host. More stories to tell, but....
Fast forward to Virginia, 2017. Have been looking for a decent Indian restaurant, and I can't tell you how I could be a judge of good, better or best. Fortunately, someone in the office recommended Monsoon. Located in a little strip mall by our office, I had to try it.
Set out for lunch recently with several friends from work. Monsoon bills itself as "eclectic Modern Indian". I don't know what that means, because I have no reference to eclectic Indian, modern Indian, authentic Indian or homecooked Indian. I think it means they want to charge more.
One of our party was Indian, Mr. Dimple S. He was quite the celebrity there, as over the past few months, he had become a regular. Additionally, the kitchen guy was Indian, didn't speak much English, and was his roommate. It was all good.
What to order?
The first time I went, I ordered the Chat of the day. It happened to be chick peas with garlic, diced onions and parsley. There was something a little vinegar-y and something a little sweet in there. It was delish, as Rachel Ray would say.
This time I ordered the Curry, Old Delhi style, at the urging of Mr. S. So for my lunch entrée, I ordered the Lamb with Curry. For my appetizer, I ordered this delicious, mouth-watering dish. (Unfortunately, I forget the name. I remember it is considered "street food") It was crispily fried bread dough, black beans, onions and a yogurt dressing. Oh my goodness........
Look at that beautiful Naan, Lamb curry and basmati rice! The lamb was cut in mouth-sized chunks, But I had to cut them in thirds to be a polite eater. It was perfectly cooked and the curry was not too hot. I asked for a 3 (out of 5). It was spicy enough to be exotic, but not so hot that my eyes would water or I would break out in a sweat. (I did have to get back to work after all....) Best way to eat this is to take a spoonful of the lamb, curry and rice, drop it onto a piece of the naan, fold it up like a piece of pizza and enjoy it. So good.
Get out there and experiment! Not all Indian food is hot and spicy (if that's not yo thang). But if you like hot and spicy, ask for a 3 or 4, and you will love it!