We sipped a refreshing pink vodka martini shaken with pomegranate juice and perused the menu. A jovial waiter approached. “What is the most exotic, non-Dallas dish you offer?” I asked. “Chicken tikka masala!” he said. I asked the question because many Dallas diners took their first bite of Indian food at this restaurant. It was one of the first in town and is certainly the most popular. Hence, they sell a lot of chicken tikka masala. I’m happy to report I found a few exceptional, more mysterious items on my own. The Chicken 65, from Southern India, was a red-hot scorcher of an appetizer. My mouth refused treatment from water; only a fresh martini quenched the fire. An order of dahi papdi also helped—thin, crispy, fried chickpea cakes are layered in a cold, creamy yogurt sauce. Cubes of tender beef hid beneath the surface of a hearty Balti sauce scented with spices, perfect for dipping the fragrant garlic naan. Our server turned out to be efficient in retrieving food and drinks in a timely manner. The restaurant was in the middle of a major renovation. “They work all night, and then we serve all day,” our server said. I’m sure his innocent proclamation might have been of interest to the health inspectors, but by the time you read this, the dining room will be newly restored.

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