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When I went to American Tandoor to check it out for BYT I decided to take an Indian food expert with me: my mom. She’s a tough critic but according to her, American Tandoor not only passes the test but gets two thumbs up. The menu goes way beyond the typical Indian restaurant menu, and offers dishes that are both modern and inspired by ingredients from all around India. As my mom noted, every state in India has its own culture and cuisine, so it’s kind of bizarre that most Indian restaurants have the exact same menu with the exact same dishes. Another positive point: the food at American Tandoor is really spicy. Real Indian food is spicy! So order a cooling yogurt lassi and jump on board the spice train.

The menu was so enticing we went kind of crazy ordering: we started with three awesome street snacks, aloo tikki, avocado chaat, and momos. Aloo tikki are fried potato pancakes, stuffed with peas and served a sweet tamarind chutney. They are crispy and super spicy and so so good. Chaat is a street snack where potatoes, chickpeas, and fried dough are topped with various sauces and herbs and spices. The one at American Tandoor, is deconstructed, with chips on the side and smashed avocado served in a bowl. Momos are Nepalese dumplings, which are popular in both Nepal and India. After we inhaled all of these it was on to the main courses.

We sampled paneer, which is house made cheese, and cauliflower that were baked in a tandoor, a clay oven. Both were marinated before being cooked, in complex sauces comprised of spices like cumin, ginger, coriander powder, red chili, turmeric, garlic, garam masala, and more. We also sampled buttery house made naan, three different kinds of lentils, including one that is simmered for 24 hours, to get the full effect of the ingredients, a chickpea and tomato salad tossed with green chilies and tamarind, and topped with fried potato sticks, and butternut squash gravy, perfect for eating with the naan.

Each dish is bursting with flavor and spice, so you can pretty much order anything and it will be delicious. If anything is too spicy, get one of their housemade sodas or a beer, that will help. The next time you find yourself in Tysons Corner, this is a must-visit spot. The restaurant is cheerful and spacious, with staff that is as passionate about the food as you will be. And if you never go to Tysons Corner, consider going just to sample American Tandoor’s food.