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Haandi, Northern Indian in Falls Plaza Shopping Center on Route 7 in Falls Church


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Jake, I've had this with you at Heritage India, right?

If I'm remembering correctly, that dish was as qualitatively great as any Vindaloo I've ever eaten, but on a heat-scale, it didn't register compared to what I had at Haandi. I had gotten the dish from Haandi as carryout, and I remember after about three bites, I was running up and down the stairs saying to myself, "Please, God, make it subside" - but it didn't. As JeffC described, this was another dimension of heat - I've had all kinds of hot dishes, ranging from Korean hot-pot kimchi jige, to Jamaican Scotch Bonnet-ridden gravies, to vinegary Thai plates with alien chiles that must have registered 100,000+ Scoville Units, but I don't remember anything that just wouldn't go away like this. After ten minutes of hopping around, having made an earnest attempt at religious conversion five minutes before, I began searching for morphine, a gun, a phone to dial 911 - anything to find some relief, but it didn't come. I'm not saying that if you go get a Haandi vindaloo, you'll have the same experience, but that night, that particular dish, that was, well, the only carryout dish I've never been able to eat with the exception of a Sizzling Taurus at Seven Seas in Rockville, which had so much black pepper that it was inedible.

Cheers,
Rocks.


I had the Lamb Vindaloo at Haandi about a year and a half ago or so. Expecting the dish to be hot to start with, once I start eating it I thought to myself "this is quite warm". Then the second bite... "getting warmer". By the fourth or fifth bite my entire body was sweating, I was asking for extra napkins to wipe the sweat off my face and had drank and entire pitcher of water. It was a burn that just kept building and building, never subsiding. I finished the dish (and thought the taste and texture were quite good) but the heat was something else. I've been accused of having my taste buds burnt off and no longer capable of tasting the heat that is present in food as what I find to be a pleasanty spiced dish with just a wee bit of kick my GF finds to be inedibly hot, and yet the lamb vindaloo that night made me see that there were degrees of heat that I had never been privy to previously. I wanted to make it back to see if it was a fluke or just how they made the dish but never got around to it.
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Even though Haandi is technically a chain, the Falls Church location feels like very much of an independently owned, neighborhood restaurant - and a neighborhood restaurant is exactly what it is. The well-organized, well-written menu proudly lists the employees of both the Bethesda and Falls Church locations who have worked twelve years or more, and even accredits the individual chefs at each restaurant.

Navrattan Biryani ($12) is a comforting platter of saffron basmati, grown dark from the spices and nuts, made with a good half-dozen vegetables, the whole plate heavy and homey in a good-oily sort-of way. It's filling and satisfying, and cries out to be eaten rather than scrutinized.

Just as light-heavy is the Methi Paneer ($11), little cubes of paneer in a lightly colored, medium-thick gravy made more interesting by some fenugreek, and absolutely perfect as an Onion-Kulcha dunk ($2.50).

The biryani comes with raita, chutneys, and pickles, and so the only thing you really need to pay extra for is some breads from the tandoor, and Haandi's naans, rotis, kulchas, and parathas have been consistently adequate in my experience.

Haandi is never dazzling, but it's also never disappointing. Falling squarely within the circular Northern-country-masala-gravy genre, it has always been reliable over the years. I find the Falls Church location charming, the service unfailingly friendly, and the paintings on the wall (painted in 1989) soft and easy on the eye.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Even though Haandi is technically a chain, the Falls Church location feels like very much of an independently owned, neighborhood restaurant - and a neighborhood restaurant is exactly what it is. The well-organized, well-written menu proudly lists the employees of both the Bethesda and Falls Church locations who have worked twelve years or more, and even accredits the individual chefs at each restaurant.

Navrattan Biryani ($12) is a comforting platter of saffron basmati, grown dark from the spices and nuts, made with a good half-dozen vegetables, the whole plate heavy and homey in a good-oily sort-of way. It's filling and satisfying, and cries out to be eaten rather than scrutinized.

Just as light-heavy is the Methi Paneer ($11), little cubes of paneer in a lightly colored, medium-thick gravy made more interesting by some fenugreek, and absolutely perfect as an Onion-Kulcha dunk ($2.50).

The biryani comes with raita, chutneys, and pickles, and so the only thing you really need to pay extra for is some breads from the tandoor, and Haandi's naans, rotis, kulchas, and parathas have been consistently adequate in my experience.

Haandi is never dazzling, but it's also never disappointing. Falling squarely within the circular Northern-country-masala-gravy genre, it has always been reliable over the years. I find the Falls Church location charming, the service unfailingly friendly, and the paintings on the wall (painted in 1989) soft and easy on the eye.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Haandi was my first favorite Indian in metro DC. The Bethesda branch was the beginning of our Friday-night-on-the-town for years, until I had my first meal at Heritage India. But we still have the occasional meal at Haandi, not only for the always reliable food--one food critic once likened Haandi to a Volvo--but for the gracious service. I love the butter chicken, the vindaloos, and their green coriander chutney, still IMO the best in DC. The Sunday buffet in Bethesda is one of the better Indian buffets around, a more accurate reflection of the overall quality of the restaurant than most.

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We've eaten here many times and have only been disappointed by their hours, which never seem to coincide with our appetites. Thanks for reminding me how long it's been! I now feel the need for some samosa and daal makhni. Boring, I know, but one of my favorite things :angry:

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I can not believe that I have not posted on Haandi, nor that DR.com did not have a thread dedicated to it. I have always loved Haandi (Falls Church). The Rogan Josh is incredible. They have a house made lime pickle that is additive (you must ask for it). The breads are good, the chutney canned, service excellent. The prices are a bit higher than other places, but not by much. They do a great job on vegetarian options as well.

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Haandi's lunch buffet is quite delicious and affordable. I highly recommend it.

And cheaper than my Palak Paneer (*, $11.00) today. Ah, but mine was freshly cooked.

Cheers,

Rocks.

(*) A very underrated comfort food, in my opinion.

NB - Haandi, you have "vegetarian" spelled wrong on your website.

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How is the version at Haandi? Is it worth driving out of my way to try when I can get a very good Saag Paneer from the much closer Bombay Curry Company?

Bombay Curry Company's is probably a little better; In the past, I've enjoyed Delhi Club's and maybe even Cafe Taj's more than Haandi's.

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Haandi's lunch buffet is quite delicious and affordable. I highly recommend it.

I tried the lunch buffet at the Bethesda location on Tuesday and thought it was it was good value for the price. I especially liked the lemon/carrot pickle, and the saag paneer. For $10.75, this will be on my regular rotation.

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I have eaten at Haandi (both locations) several times as well as every well-known Indian restaurant in DC and I can say -- without any hesitation -- that Haandi is better than any Indian restaurant in D.C., save maybe Rasika (although Rasika is really in a whole different category). I think Haandi's Bethesda location is better than the Falls Church one, but both are excellent. The flavors of the dishes are just better than Heritage, Indique, Bombay Club or any of the places in D.C. (BTW, I think my favorite place in the District is Masala Art). My only complaint about Haandi is (1) it ain't cheap and (2) I wish they had a location in NWDC.

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I have eaten at Haandi (both locations) several times as well as every well-known Indian restaurant in DC and I can say -- without any hesitation -- that Haandi is better than any Indian restaurant in D.C., save maybe Rasika (although Rasika is really in a whole different category).

That's a pretty strong statement, especially considering that Passage to India is two blocks away.

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I have eaten at Haandi (both locations) several times as well as every well-known Indian restaurant in DC and I can say -- without any hesitation -- that Haandi is, in my opinion, better than any Indian restaurant in D.C., save maybe Rasika (although Rasika is really in a whole different category). I think Haandi's Bethesda location is better than the Falls Church one, but both are excellent. The flavors of the dishes are just better than Heritage, Indique, Bombay Club or any of the places in D.C. (BTW, I think my favorite place in the District is Masala Art). My only complaint about Haandi is (1) it ain't cheap and (2) I wish they had a location in NWDC.

Hope Thad doesn't mind my friendly revision. Everybody's entitled to an opinion, but they shouldn't be stated as fact.

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I've been to Haandi (Bethesda) many, many times. The rice is particularly flavorful, as are rice-based dishes, like the chicken biryani. I like Passage to India too, but they're very different, IMO. Haandi seems a bit heavier when compared to PtoI, but they also have fairly different selections. One nitpicky thing about Haandi -- if you order mango chutney, it's about $3 for a tiny amount. I've bought (and made) it for much less, but it's a small detaill overall.

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Thank you, Haandi, for paying tribute to your long-time staff.

Combining both of your locations, you have 4 employees with over 20 years experience, and 9 employees with over 12 years experience - employee retention rate says a lot about companies, and this says a lot about you. Well done, Mr. Mehra.

post-2-0-54928300-1351995308_thumb.jpg

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We had a group dinner at Haandi Falls Church last week. In my personal opinion, this is one of the best in DC. It is certainly the tops in NOVA. We were Dehli Club addicts for a long stretch and, while that is still very good, Haandi takes it to another level of flavor. I haven't been to Heritage in a while, so I feel a taste test challenge coming on, but I am already planning our return to Haandi in the near future. It just kills me that I lived so close to Haandi for over two years and didn't discover it until recently. No matter, it is worth a drive across town any night of the week.

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It wasn't open the last time I walked by. I'd be happy to check tomorrow and post.

Man, I'm a dummy. I drove right past it looking for that ramen shop and didn't even think to turn my head. Maybe it's because I'm still attempting to not acknowledge that there was ever a subpar deli there.

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Man, I'm a dummy. I drove right past it looking for that ramen shop and didn't even think to turn my head. Maybe it's because I'm still attempting to not acknowledge that there was ever a subpar deli there.

It's still got paper over the windows. Maybe this month sometime?

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IggI -- please share what you ordered. (I'm curious, and not criticizing what you wrote)

I'm equidistant from Haandi and Cafe Taj. The latter usually offers a 10% off coupon, not to mention that I think their curry is very tasty, so I've always gone there. Seems like I should expand my horizons...

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IggI -- please share what you ordered. (I'm curious, and not criticizing what you wrote)

I'm equidistant from Haandi and Cafe Taj. The latter usually offers a 10% off coupon, not to mention that I think their curry is very tasty, so I've always gone there. Seems like I should expand my horizons...

Haandi (at least the one in Falls Church) is better than Café Taj. My "standard comfort order" there is Palak Paneer, Chole with Potatoes (don't remember what they call it), a large Raita, a plain Naan, and 2-3 little tubs of pickles (gratis). Dump an order of rice in the bottom of a mixing bowl, then pour about 2/3 of each entree on top of that, side-by-side, then pour about 2/3 of the raita on top (*after* microwaving it if it needs reheating before serving - you don't want to heat the raita). Add pickles last-minute around the side of the bowl, being careful not to mix them in because they disappear and are so strong that they're vile as anything more than an occasional taste break. It's not always perfect, but it's good, vegetarian (if not low-calorie, which it most certainly isn't) comfort food that is very satisfying when you're craving non-exotic Indian. Give this a try, following these instructions letter-for-letter, and make sure to get an extra order of rice so you can have the rest of the entrees for a small lunch the next day (you should receive two containers of rice since there are two entrees). You may not "love" it, but I see almost no way you'll hate it. The spinach, chole (chickpeas), and potatoes are a very satisfying trio, and when mixed with the other condiments, become really pleasurable. Finally, drizzle a bit of tamarind (purple, sweet) and coriander (green, savory) chutneys atop of everything for just a bit more taste, but don't use too much, and once again, save about 1/3 of everything for the next day. Also, do not soak the bread in the dish - keep it dry for the occasional bite (tear off a small piece, and pinch an occasional piece of paneer in it for variation). Wrap the rest of it back in the foil and do not refrigerate any of this overnight - it will be fine 18 hours later at room temperature if you seal the bag back tightly. This is a one-bowl dish that's very easy to clean - if the remnants become cold and dry, just soak the mixing bowl in soapy water for an hour and it comes right off. Do this exact thing and I think you'll be quite happy.

I would be both curious and honored if people were to try this, letter-for-letter, with full, honest feedback. And please remember to recycle.

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IggI -- please share what you ordered. (I'm curious, and not criticizing what you wrote)

I'm equidistant from Haandi and Cafe Taj. The latter usually offers a 10% off coupon, not to mention that I think their curry is very tasty, so I've always gone there. Seems like I should expand my horizons...

Salmon curry, chicken makhini, chicken tikka masala, the eggplant dish, and a lamb vindaloo. I think that was it. There may have been a tandori but I can't remember for sure. We had a couple of different naan (but none of them were that spectacular).

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I would be both curious and honored if people were to try this, letter-for-letter, with full, honest feedback. And please remember to recycle.

I am curious, and I will TOTALLY do this the next time we get Indian food. Then we start the Indian restaurant DR challenge, where we do this with every place and chart the results.

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Tonight, my husband and I kicked off a bittersweet culinary journey. We currently live in Eastern Market, and over the past 10 years, one or both of us have lived in Falls Church, McLean, Alexandria, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and 12th and M NW. If all goes according to plan, in the next few months, we will be moving to Maryland--perhaps Crofton, where I have family, perhaps Silver Spring, perhaps Laurel, perhaps Takoma Park. We are looking forward to having a nice home with a nice yard, and plenty of space for the two of us...plus another someone on the way. (This is too early to be FB news, but I'm happy to spill the beans to this wonderful group of semi-anonymous folks.) We are really excited about moving, but we are also going to miss living in DC more than I can say.

One of the ways we are saying goodbye to this neighborhood and the neighborhoods we've lived in over the years is to take a culinary farewell tour of sorts. I proposed this to Steve tonight, and he could not have been more enthusiastic about the idea. Starting this weekend, we are making a point to go to all the places we love that we probably won't be going to again, at least for a while. Not fancy places, not special occasion places where we'll want to go for anniversaries and birthdays and other "let's splurge for a sitter" nights, but the dozens of places that feel like OUR places. The places that--even though they aren't close to our current home--are our neighborhood restaurants.

We kicked off this farewell tour with Haandi in Falls Church. We had a delicious meal of Baigan Bharta (eggplant, bell pepper, tomatoes and wonderful spices), Rogan Josh (really tender lamb in a creamy sauce with cinnamon and nutmeg), salad, and that wonderful saffron rice with peas. The service was friendly, and I was so glad to see that Haandi was packed. This was the perfect place to begin this project--a warm and comforting restaurant where you know you're going to be satisfied and treated well.

Being there reminded me of the days when I lived a few blocks down Route 7 in a town house with five other ladies who have proven to be my best friends in this area. Re-telling stories about living in that crazy group house was half the fun of the dinner tonight. And I'm thinking that's the way this whole farewell tour is going to go. Because some of the best memories I've had in DC and VA happened in restaurants, with good friends, with my dear husband, and even with some lousy dates. The tastes and smells of familiar favorite places always brings back those memories.

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We are looking forward to having a nice home with a nice yard, and plenty of space for the two of us...plus another someone on the way. (This is too early to be FB news, but I'm happy to spill the beans to this wonderful group of semi-anonymous folks.)

:)

Tonight was *very* close to being a "Say hi next time!"

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Last night, after many a moon, ordered take out. I had not forgotten how pleasant the staff is and how terrific their food is but it has been several years (why?). A nice reminder as to what a great option the Haandi is for locals, esp with six hungry mouths to feed Sat nite. The place was packed at 6 pm when I picked up our order and the large order was exactly as requested. Which is not so predictable these days.

The usual suspects proved yet again very good: daal (asked for it extra hot and it was), bengan bharta (delicious eggplant mixture), methi chooza (a very tasty chicken concoction), ghost masala (lamb - delightful), methi paratha (specialty naan), papadam, raita, chutney. You get the drill. We six slobs devoured every speck of sauce, protein & rice w/out a trace remaining on chair, flooring or cheeks.

The only meh comment was seekh kebab tandoor - ground beef tandoori kebab. I personally liked this but others felt it was dull and the odd shaped kebab off putting. But, hey, what would not taste "bland" after chowing down on the parade of delicious curries and spices?

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It really is a dump.  Standing at the counter and looking at the menu, if it had not been for 20 or more people filling every seat at ten at night I wouldn't have given the place a second thought.  Let alone walked in the door.  After we walked in we read the menu over and over not really understanding, not even have heard of some of the dishes.  Frankly, I'd never heard of Hyderabadi Indian before.  Nor had I heard of Balti before eating my way through Manchester's Akbar.  It also never occurred to me that we should order biryani in a restaurant which had this as part of its name.

Sometimes I really don't think.

Don, the best biryani I have ever had was ten or so years ago when Bhatia was still at Zaika and he did a flaky puffed pastry crust on top of his biryani.  My wife still insists it is the best Indian dish of any kind that she has ever had.

But it never occurred to me that we should order Biryani here.

We only had a few dishes although the absolute star was the methi paneer.  Well....the other two were exceptional also.  This just seems like a whole different, more sophisticated level of regional Indian cuisine that D. C. has not had before.  I also believe that there is now a large enough of a native or second generation population that there is now a demand and expectation for something this well done.

I also noted that @ 10:15 when we left not only were the twenty seats still filled but another half dozen people had come and gone while we waited picking up carry out orders.  Remarkable.  I wondered if they had a Rose's Luxury like line out the door at 7:00?

Someone else needs to go.  We also need to go back (and order biryani among other dishes!).  And the methi paneer again.  Exquisitely delicious.

Addendum:  I am not overstating the throat blistering nature of some of this.  I must note that it is worth the burn.

Well, I certainly wish I'd tried Biryani House in Herndon last night - after many months of loyalty to Curry Mantra 2 (now closed), I gave Haandi another try last night after probably two years, and it was just as I'd feared.

They finallly got a new website (warning: same annoying, slightly addicting, music), and I thought I'd try something I'd never had there: From the Mughlai section of their menu (from my experience, ordering Southern Indian from a Northern Indian restaurant is nearly always a mistake), I tried a Dum Ki Biryani ($16.95), asking them specifically if they could use light oil (remembering having received oily rice dishes here in the past), and they said sure. There was nothing blatantly "wrong" with the Biryani, other than being somewhat over-oiled, coaxing me to use a spoon instead of a fork because I was so confident I wouldn't lose any rice. The chunks of chicken and lamb - perhaps three each - were very good (this is the Northern portion of the restaurant speaking), but for $16.95, I need more than this, and felt like I was primarily eating a bowl of heavy rice. There were nice surprises here and there - ginger, sliced almonds, perhaps a tiny bit of fruit, the occasional pod, but adding some raita and tamarind and coriander chutneys only made this wetter and busier, forcing me to dash to the microwave a couple of times to prop up the heat.

I suspect in all my life, I've never had a truly world-class biryani (I can picture how it would be, and it makes me swoon), but I *have* had great biryani, and Haandi's isn't it - Haandi is best at serving "chunks of meat" - the chicken and the lamb, for example, that were in my biryani were fine - moist and delicious. I wish I'd read this thread before committing - A Saturday-evening commitment to Herndon is not at all daunting for me, and it would have been worth the trip.

A thought just popped into my head: Is there any historical relationship at all between biryani and paella? Southern Indian cuisine was heavily influenced by the Portuguese, and vice-versa, so it seems plausible. I still remember the best paella I've ever eaten: a home-cooked version helmed by Janet Cam and about five of her friends - they were cooking for almost two days, and produced the largest circular tray of food I've ever seen in my life. It was just about perfect, and was one of the greatest things I've ever eaten.

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I had a great combination briyani at Haandi this evening.  Chicken, lamb and vegetables.  The meat was so moist, all the flavors were really good, the rice was perfect, it had good texture and seasoning and I liked the amount of vegetable it had in it.  It was maybe the best briyani I have had, although I haven't had tons of briyani so it isn't a huge sample size.  This is the first Indian food I have had since returning from India and it was a good place to get back on the wagon (although I think it will be a while before I will eat a samosa, chicken curry or paranthas.)  I also got their salad, which is just iceberg, lettuce and tomatoes- nothing special, but I was feeling the need for some veggies.  Matt got a chicken and spinach dish that was good, but not near as good as the briyani.  We also had some plain naan, which was good, as well.  

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Went the other evening and had chicken briyani and Hubby had a chicken and spinach dish, the leftover of which were very good with my leftover briyani.  I wanted to get something non-briyani, but their briyani is just so good, that I just couldn't order something else.

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Was at Haandi last week for some curry and biryani (I like the mixed veg, meat one).  I like the menu here, it has a few different things.  This will be one of the places we really miss when we move, as it isn't too far away from us now, but will just be in a too far, awkward location later.

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Many thanks to those who posted above about how good the takeout at Haandi is. We were craving Indian food the other night and infant bedtimes meant takeout was in the cards. After some quick searching through the forums it was an easy decision. Lamb vindaloo, chicken biryani and a stuffed naan. All great! We even had leftovers for the next day.

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On 1/26/2019 at 3:03 PM, horacebailey14 said:

Many thanks to those who posted above about how good the takeout at Haandi is. We were craving Indian food the other night and infant bedtimes meant takeout was in the cards. After some quick searching through the forums it was an easy decision. Lamb vindaloo, chicken biryani and a stuffed naan. All great! We even had leftovers for the next day.

[Comments like this make running this website worthwhile.]

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