Editors' pick

Woodlands

Indian, Vegetarian/Vegan
$$$$ ($14 and under)
'

Editorial Review

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, October 19, 2003

With a big, barely decorated dining room and matter-of-fact service, Woodlands isn't much to look at or to linger in. The kitchen's vegetarian cooking, careful and consistent, is what packs 'em in-notice all the Indian families here? To start, there are snacks of lentil doughnuts and unfortunately heavy pakora (fritters). Dosas, the subtly sour crepes made with rice and lentils, can be sampled more than a dozen different ways; one of my standbys involves a filling of buttery, cumin-fragrant potatoes and onions. Like all the dosas, it's accompanied by coconut chutney and sambar, a sort of vegetable soup. Together, they bring a lot of pleasure for $6. Of the rice dishes, I'm partial to the pilaf accented with sweet-tart tamarind and mixed with nuts and raisins. Pungent pickles and tangy yogurt sauce transform this entree into a mini-feast of flavors and textures. There's more to explore, from curries, including soft-crisp okra in a brick-red tomato-and-onion sauce, to uthappam, which one of my companions aptly described as "Indian pizza." Its blistered surface (more rice flour and lentils) acts as a savory canvas for peas, carrots and onions. If you have a hard time deciding, consider lunch and the buffet, an ever-changing bargain at $6.95 weekdays, two dollars more on the weekend. Woodlands doesn't serve alcohol, but it does pour a fine mango lassi and a milky tea perfumed with cardamom, cloves and ginger.