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Good Indian in St Mary's county

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If you live in southern MD and you like Indian food, you may want to try Bollywood Masala, now open in the strip mall just off the intersection of 235 and MacArthur - I think that's in California, MD, but I coyuld be wrong - I don't know where the town bopundaries are.

Anyway, this place is quite good, and they are unafraid to present spicy (both spicy "hot" and spicy "complex").

So far, in a couple of visits, I've tried the tomato soup, the veggie appetizer platter (samosa, pakoras, paneer pakoras and tamarind/mint chutney), naan, methi paratha (flatbread with fennugreek leaves in the dough), mattar mushrooom (mushrooms, peas and tomato chunks in a thick spicy gravy), bhindi masala (dried fried spiced okra - I hope I remembered the dish name correctly), and a WONDERFUL lamb dish with a cream sause invented by the owner's mother, made with a very flavorful and hot paste of habaneros. For desserts, I've only tried the kheer, but if it's any indication, the desserts are also quite nice.

The best part is that the owner/host seems very willing to chat a bit and find out what you like and don't like, so as to try to guide your choices. He also seems willing to have the kitchen adjust the spicing down (which most places do) or up (which is often harder to convince a restaurant to do).

For example, when I mentioned that I was considering one of the lamb dishes with their special habanero sauce, the owner brought me a somewhat toned down sample, and said "Do you like the flavor? Don't worry about the heat level yet - we can adjust that. If you like the flavor, then we can go from there. We want to achieve flavorful hot, not stupid hot where there is all heat and no flavor"

I did like the sample, and they did a fine job of tuning the dish to the owner's estimation of what I would enjoy, and he provided a little side dish of the habanero spice masala on the side, in case I wanted to fine tune the heat upward. He said he had the kitchen make it at about 8 out of 10 on the heat scale, and it was marvelous. I was impressed both with the flavor and subtlety of the dish, but also with how well the owner dialed in the dish based on such a short conversation, combined with watching my reaction when tasting the sample.

In limited exposure so far, this place seems like the sort of place that chowhounds ought to support, especially in an area where good ethnic restaurant options are somewhat hard to come by. This guy is willing to work with those unfamiliar with the cuisine, based on what I could overhear of his conversation with other diners, but he seems very interested in presenting the real cuisine, rather than an apologetically Americanized version.

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