While Rasika gets a lot of pub for its wonderful Indian cuisine, Masala Art is nearly as good and even better priced. Located right in the heart of Tenleytown off Wisconsin Avenue, Masala Art offers an extensive menu that ranges from four varieties of naan to more than a dozen vegetarian entrees.
With our friends Brian, Kim, and their baby Micah, we kicked off our Indian dinner with an order of their garlic and black pepper naan as well as the Sarson wali Gobhi (tandoori cauliflower). The naan was terrific – it arrived piping hot and was not dry at all. It also helped sop up the sauce from the gobhi which featured a coating of spices punctuated by mustard seeds.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist ordering a personal favorite, the Chicken 65. Our friends Keith and Casey, who live across the street from Masala Art, turned me onto this appetizer and I have been hooked ever since. A stew-like dish that features chunks of chicken in South Indian masala, it had a nice kick and wonderful flavor. Highly recommended.
As for our entrees, we decided to order a trio of dishes to share amongst the table. We went with the Murgh Makhani (chicken in tomato cream sauce), Channa Masala (chickpeas), and Baingan Bharta (Tandoor roasted eggplant). Otherwise knows as butter chicken, the Murgh Makhani was very good although there could have been a little more meat with all that delicious sauce.
Meanwhile the Channa Masala, another traditional dish, was a crowd-pleaser. It was nothing extraordinary, but it was well-executed and well-suited for sharing.
As for the Baingan Bharta, between the smoky eggplant and creamy texture, it was the favorite out of the three entrees we ordered that evening. Like the Murgh, it had fallen victim to an out of balance entrée to sauce ratio, but whatever eggplant I could scrounge up was indeed delightful.
All and all, Masala Art served up some excellent Indian cooking that night. We didn’t have any issues with the service, though we felt slightly rushed given the small dining room as well as those waiting for a table at the front of the house. If you live in the area, I should note that Masala Art offers takeout – a nice plus if you want to chow down on an order of Chicken 65 while sitting on your own sofa.