Shirlington: Aroma Indian Cuisine's New Winter Menu
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and try Aroma Indian Cuisine's new winter menu at their Shirlington (Arlington) location. Founded and run by Daljeet Chhatwal, Aroma has been around since 1996. Chhatwal has a very varied background, first working in hotel management in New Dehli and for Air India before moving here in 1984 and managing at Bombay Palace. After 10 years of restaurant management he decided it was time to start his own restaurant and Aroma was born! What a varied background - the conclusion is that Chhatwal has a lot of experience, making for a great owner. Their location in DC has served the likes of Obama and Bush and catering big wig events. Currently due to high rent costs their DC location is temporarily shut down until they find a new location - no worries though, you can still find them in Shirlington and Lorton.
When we entered we were unfairly shown/had to walk by their beautiful dessert display created by their pastry chef (yes they have a pastry chef, how cool is that?!?). There were four new desserts to try out, and they were as tasty as they were gorgeous. It was ALMOST a shame to eat them. There was a panna cotta with blueberry served in a plastic tulip dish. Delicious. A double chocolate mouse in a chocolate tulip, a bread pudding in a chocolate bowl and a tulip made of an apple. Everything was fantastic but the apple was lacking a sauce or some additional seasonings.
Below are basic accompaniments in Indian cuisine. The last two are pretty self explanatory, basmati rice and naan. The first item you see, papadum, or a thin lentil like cracker is actually meant to be a textural addition to your meal. A lot of curries have the same texture, and this is given to you to add a little crunch/break things up.
To start off our meal, they brought us a selection of two soups. I don't normally think of soup when I go out for Indian, but perhaps I need to rethink that notion. The first soup was Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup $4.99. Mulligatawny comes from two oriental words meaning "pepper water" and curry. Basically this was the Indian version of tomato soup with some bits of chopped cauliflower that gave a nice textural element. The other soup (and my favorite) was the Chicken Corn Soup $4.49 which reminded me of a fancier Chinese egg drop soup.
This is where we get to the good stuff...we tried about a million dishes - I will show you my favorites in their full form later. Below is how we were presented with the food, a couple bites of each dish. There was also a veggie platter served but in my extreme hunger I forgot to take a photo.
My favorites below ...
Salmon Puff Pastry $20.99 One bite and you will be indulged in comfort. The salmon is seasoned with lime juice and a blend of Indian spices then baked in a delicate puff pastry with spinach. It rests on top of a bed of mashed potatoes.
This was the epitome of a comfort dish - I wouldn't hate eating this on my couch wrapped in a blanket in front of a fire.
Kandhari Lamb Chops $21.99 Enjoy these "fall of the bone" lamb chops that have been marinated overnight and flavored with fresh herbs. This was definitely a favorite of the table - the bones were licked clean. The spice rub was flavorful and the meat tender.
Pudhina Kofta Masala $11.99 Mixed vegetables and curd cheese croquettes cooked in a creamy almond sauce. A vegetarian "meatball." The almond sauce was creamy and flavorful - this is a dish I am going to start adding onto my rotation when I go out to Indian restaurants.
Would I come back? Yes, I definitely would. I need those vegetarian "meatballs" again!