Good to Go

Box Lunches at Indique Heights

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We love decadent two-hour lunches. But even at the Food section, we can't spend that much time eating. Our ideal everyday lunch is tasty, fast and cheap.

Indique Heights makes that easy by providing three ready-to-go box lunches at bargain prices. The vegetarian ($6) includes saag makai, a creamy spinach and corn curry; and alu chole, chickpeas cooked with tomatoes and potatoes. For meat eaters, there's one with chicken tikka makhani ($7) and another with lamb makhani ($8). Both meat offerings come with a side of saag makai. And all three are accompanied by fragrant basmati rice, nan and three kinds of chutney.

Most customers are locals who work in the building Indique occupies above the Friendship Heights Metro, says co-owner Surfy Rahman. But we found that the curries traveled well. The chicken makhani, also called butter chicken, was full of tender meat braised in a creamy tomato gravy and just a hint of spice. And though it tastes creamy, Rahman says the amount of butter has been reduced so much over the years that it's fair to call it "healthy." The chickpeas and potatoes in the alu chole had lovely texture, unlike so many versions in which they're cooked to a tasteless mush. The only disappointment was the nan, which suffered on the trip back to the office. Nan is best right from the oven. Eaten lukewarm at our desks, it was chewy verging on tough.

Before our sampling, we imagined the lunches would be akin to an Indian bento box. But there's nothing that dainty about the portions here. With restraint -- but really, who has that? -- you could easily stretch each portion into two lunches. Indeed, the box lunches are becoming so popular that Rahman says they will begin offering them at sister restaurant Indique next month, making tasty, fast and cheap easier to find than ever.

-- Jane Black

Indique Heights, 2 Wisconsin Cir., Chevy Chase, 301-656-4822, Hours: Lunch boxes available daily, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Coming soon to Indique, 3512-14 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-244-6600,

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