by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor
FOR: SPICY DAL
332 Elden St., Herndon; thaliexpress.us
Dal, the Indian verision of lentils, can be both boring and beautiful. It can be an everyday staple, but also an indulgent affair, spun with herbs and butter. Yellow dal at Thali Express is on the revelatory side and masterfully spicy. The dal sits in a tin compartment in a tray made just for thalis, a sampling platter of dishes. Tender but meaty chickpeas sit in the next slot and a barely gingery, but otherwise unspunky, spinach with potato fill another divet. Rice, undressed salad, papadan, a more milky North Indian raita with boondi (chickpea dumplings) and a basket of naan (cold and dry) round out the leftovers-sized platter.
Opened in April, Thali Express is made for the lunch crowd with order-at-the-counter service and limited seating. At the register, ask for a toothpick’d chili for a salad add-on.