Curry Mantra expands from Fairfax to Falls Church


Bell peppers stuffed with potatoes and cheese at Curry Mantra in Fairfax City. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Smaller and more formal than the 125-seat original, the forthcoming dining room will have space for fewer than half that number of patrons. Curry Mantra 2 will further set itself apart with what Sheikh calls a “live,” or exhibition kitchen: “No glass ... you can go talk to the chefs,” says the restaurateur, who wonders why more Indian restaurants don’t put their kitchens on display. “There’s so much to see, know, learn about Indian cooking!”

He’s hired a chef from Bombay Dine Club in London, Khurshid Mohamad, to execute the menu, which will include some curries — okra with chicken, cauliflower with lamb — based on Sheikh’s mother’s recipes.

Even now, Sheikh is scouting possible locations for a third restaurant, which he’d like to launch in Vienna. The name is a given: Curry Mantra 3.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.

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