News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Eats: Bollywood Masala in Dahlgren
BY LINDA SALISBURY
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Every once in a while we visit a restaurant that is so good it becomes our standard for excellence.
Such is Bollywood Masala, an Indian restaurant in Dahlgren that had been recommended to us several times since it opened last year.
We like Indian food but have never sampled the exquisite flavors that we enjoyed during our lunch visit. Diners may choose the buffet until 2 p.m., or order lunch specials or any item on the very extensive menu.
Raj, the owner and chef, is a native of New Delhi. He explained the dishes, offered suggestions and said that his kitchen makes everything, including the paneer, a cottage cheese pressed into blocks used in many dishes including dessert. And, unlike many Indian kitchens, his uses a charcoal rather than electric tandoor for breads and tandoori dishes. This adds a smoky flavor to the chicken tandoori, for example, which My Dining Partner raved about after sampling it from the buffet.
Although the lunch buffet ($8.95) is not as extensive as those offered by some Indian restaurants we’ve visited, it had quality food, including curried eggs that would rival deviled eggs at a picnic.
Raj is rightfully proud of his spicing, and he told us that diners can have dishes custom-prepared according to allergies or preferences for the degree of heat. He said the spicy range is from minus two to 30. We could taste the distinctive ingredients, such as egg, or lamb, dal makhani (lentils and kidney beans) or chicken, aside from the curry or sauce.
At Raj’s suggestion, I ordered the Kashmiri lamb ($16.95), with a “medium” degree of heat.
The slightly sweet onion gravy—a sauce with mango, nuts and chunks of tender lamb—was served in a copper bowl. It, alone, was worth the drive for its delicate, unusual flavor.
We both like naan, which came with MDP’s buffet, but I wanted to also try some of the more exotic breads. At Raj’s suggestion we ordered garlic and onion flavors, each $3.95.
The onion naan looked like a small pizza, and the bits of chopped onion were baked between layers of dough in the tandoor. I could make a meal of naan and plan to try other breads on another visit.
MDP was impressed by the buffet’s kheer, a rice pudding prepared with pistachio and almonds. It was a light finish to the meal (although he had a second helping). I ordered ras malai ($3.95). This consisted of two spongy paneer patties that were soaked in a flavored milk and garnished with pistachios. This was not overly sweet, but unusual and satisfying.
Readers’ ballyhoo for Bollywood was on target!
What: Bollywood Masala
Address: 4589 James Madison Parkway (U.S. 301), Dahlgren, in Dahlgren Business Center, across from new Walmart shopping center, about 30 miles from Central Park.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday to Friday; noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Monday.
Prices: Appetizers: $3.95–$7.95; Soups and salads: $3.95–$4.95; Dinners: $11.95–$20.95; Children’s menu: $3.95–$11.95; Desserts: $3.95. Beer, wine and mixed drinks available.
The Scoop: Family-owned and family-friendly. Owner and staff are gracious and helpful with selections. Attractive purple and gold décor and appropriate background music. Numerous vegetarian offerings.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted.
Linda Salisbury is the author of the Bailey Fish books, an award-winning adventure series for kids.