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The food of southern India doesn’t enjoy much representation in Washington. Malgudi in Glover Park makes me wonder why. Introduced in February by the owners of the steady Heritage India above it, the offshoot makes a great compromise for diners who eschew meat (cauliflower fried with ginger and chilies, potato-filled dosas made with yellow lentils) and those who embrace it (gongura lamb ignited with a paste of Indian sorrel, chilies and lemon juice).

Seek out the advice of co-owner Mitul Tuli, a gracious guide to the menu and a frequent presence in the room, which, with antique paintings and ornate mango wood door, is more stylish than its prices suggest. Tuli is the presence who explains that kothu poratta — minced bread with chopped chicken or lamb, bound with egg and rich with spices — is a favorite of truck drivers who need hearty sustenance. “Indian stuffing,” she calls the soft golden comfort.

She also shares that Malgudi is named for an Indian village that exists only in a collection of short stories. The inspiration is fiction, but the crack food is fact.