8:45 p.m. Sunday night, Leesburg. You ate a late lunch and simply weren’t craving dinner until now. What do you do? If you’re not cooking at home, your options are limited. Thank goodness for 5 Tara Authentic Indian Cuisine, which is open until 10 p.m.
OK, it wasn’t you. It was me. I was pleased to be seated in one of the comfiest booths I can remember, but on first glance, the large menu of classics worried me. I’ve been to enough Indian restaurants full of too-similar dishes that I knew to be wary. But there were dishes that aren’t staples on North Indian menus that gave me reason to hope.
From the ample list of seafood selections, I chose a favorite Western Indian dish, Goan fish curry. The gingery, coconut-suffused sauce had a pleasant heat that grew with each bite of meaty, mild tilapia within. Somehow the flavors seemed to balloon even more when I dipped bread in the curry.
And what a bread. There are many options, including fruit-and-nut-filled Kashmiri naan, but I went with the pudina paratha, a crispy take on the layered whole wheat bread that hides dried mint between its many strata. The result? Simultaneous refreshment and comfort.
But even the American Indian food classics are executed exceptionally well at 5 Tara. My dining companion ordered the butter chicken, which I initially dismissed as “boring.” Not so at 5 Tara, where it’s less sweet and more spicy than other versions I’ve tried in the area. Big chunks of white meat chicken make it a heartier meal than I usually expect, too.
And now I know that when I’m hungry after 8 on a Sunday night in Leesburg, I won’t be left out in the cold.// 1600 Village Market Blvd., SE Ste. 132, Leesburg
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