Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Shaam-e-Mehfil" - a musical evening

An evening full of fun starting with dinner from 5:30pm - 7:30pm, followed by live performance from Ayesha and Shafiq Rahman. They will be accompanied by Tabla, Dholak and Keyboard players.
Their collection includes old and new Bollywood songs, ghazals (Urdu poetry) & qawalis (devotional songs).
Seats are limited, please Call the restaurant at 301 610 0303 to make your reservation.
For details check the website at:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spice Facts

Spices have been used in India for thousands of years not only for enhancing the taste of dishes but for their therapeutic value and also to counteract the negative residual physiological effects of foods on the human body.

: Fruit of Garcinia Indica tree used mainly in the hot Southern states for its cooling properties & for alleviating skin allergies.

: Carom seeds or Bishop’s weed seeds are used for their volatile Thymol oils to aid in digestion & are used with starchy vegetables and lentils.

: Are used both ways either fresh or dry. Usage is more common in the hot climes to increase perspiration and thereby cool the body. They also have a medicinal value for easing joint inflammation and respiratory disorders.

: Nutmeg used sparingly is supposed to cure insomnia and is frequently mixed with warm milk and taken before sleeping. The covering of nutmeg (calyx) is Mace and is considered to ease rheumatism.

FENUGREEK: The leaves, the shoots and the seeds of this plant are used. Ground seeds with water are supposed to cure diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension. It is also given to lactating women for increased milk production.
It is used as a natural testosterone/muscle booster.

TURMERIC: This rhizome of the Curcuma Longa has a multitude of uses in addition to imparting the characteristic yellow in the “CURRY”. It has an excellent antiseptic and anti bacterial effect, often used to treat common cold, cuts and bruises. As a cosmetic it is applied directly on the skin and it reduces acne too. Its latest use is in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

: This resin of a plant has a pungent sulfurous odor and is mainly used as a digestive. Also provides relief in asthma and bronchitis.

: Quite truly the King of spices at a whopping $11,000/lb for the best grade. It has the most volatile oils of any spice. Used very sparingly, it is supposed to have anticarcinogenic and antioxidant effects; although historically in India it has primarily been used as an aphrodisiac.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another accolade

Received another feather in the cap- this time from the Washington City Paper. We were honored as the Best Indian restaurant in Washington DC for 2009. I also felt a sense of pride that a restaurant I had started and subsequently left Heritage India was right on our heels at number 2. Having remained quite busy starting my new restaurant SpiceXing over the past few months I felt a lot of gratitude towards my entire team at Passage to India who have more than met the challenges.

An excerpt of the article follows:

BEST of D.C.

Best of D.C. » 2009 » Food & Drink »
Pick Best Indian

Best: Passage to India

Second-best: Heritage India

The owner and executive chef of the best Indian used to man the stove at the second-best, and it shows. The dal mahkani and palak makai that show up as sides at both establishments are luscious and rich with flavor. Saag gosht retains the flavor of the lamb; the vegetarian options are plentiful and varied. Order the butter chicken at either place, and you’ll be happy. In fact, the murgh mahkani at Heritage India, served in a clay crock over a small flame, bubbling and studded with crumbles of butter, narrowly edges out Passage to India’s, and some of their other dishes have the upper hand for taste as well. So why the No. 1 ranking to the Bethesda eatery? The creativity of the menu, which allows you to eat by region, is one reason—but the heart of it is occasional service problems at Heritage. While the management is typically gracious, several of the wait staff have a tendency to glower at guests, even turn up their noses in what appears to be disdain regarding unknown offenses diners are left to try and figure out. (Did I forget deodorant? Is it my cheap shoes?) While the food at Heritage has the edge, you can count on Passage to leave a good taste in your mouth.
—Carrie Allan

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to Bethesda News

It has been a long time since I made any mention of Passage to India, my other restaurant - so caught up I have been in trying to jump start the business at SpiceXing. Sometimes it seems to me that I have an equally tough task like Obama trying to jump start the Economy, GM etc.
I was very happy to note that in spite of the tough times we made it to the Washingtonian's 100 Best, though we slipped in rankings and I have to set my goals to regain that back. An excerpt from the article follows:

Cuisine: Owner/chef Sudhir Seth’s careful approach to regional Indian cooking—the menu covers a wide swath of the subcontinent—translates into refined plates that are light and complex.
Mood: Intricately painted and carved doors hung as wall art reinforce the “passage” motif in the serene dining room.
Best for: A lingering night out; lunch or dinner that ventures far beyond tandoor and palak paneer.
Best dishes: Sev-murmura chaat, a pileup of puffed rice, tamarind, cilantro, and dates; masala-spiced mounds of lump crab; warqi pudina paratha, a mint-flecked whole-wheat flatbread; Parsi-style lamb stew with apricots and straw potatoes; curry of okra and onions with mango powder; shrimp stew with cloves, ginger, and cinnamon; the area’s best Indian pickle plate.
Insider tips: Servers may look formal, but engage them and they’ll help put together a meal so you avoid the trap of many first-timers: too many similar-tasting dishes.
Service: ••

Friday, May 29, 2009

We made it to the "Eat Cheap" Best Bargain Restaurants

Well, the Washingtonian has finally conferred on one of my restaurants the Eat Cheap title. SpiceXing in Rockville is mentioned in their June '09 edition. Once again the Chicken Wings have been singled out for praise. In the present economic times these Best Bargains are really worth it. While it is great to go to the 100 Best for special occasions, it is these bargain restaurants that most people are wont to patronize on a day to day basis.

excerpt below:
Spice Xing
100 Gibbs Street Rockville MD 20850, phone: 301 610 0303

Why go: Sudhir Seth, chef/owner of the more traditional Passage to India in Bethesda, opened this storefront in Rockville Town Center to highlight the European and East Asian influences in Indian cuisine: Flavors of Portugal, China, France, and Spain find their way into food that is as vibrant as the Technicolor d├ęcor.

What to get: Tandoori chicken wings with a citrus tang; dahi papri chaat, a combination of seasoned yogurt and firm chickpeas, with a crackling garnish of sev, fried chicpea noodles; malbari chicken, a rust-orange curry with coconut, coriander, and tomato; aloo do piaza, cumin-scented potatoes with charred onions; paneer makhani, mild tofu-like cubes of Indian cheese in a barely sweet butter-and-tomato sauce.

Best for: Budget dining with the feel of a four-star restaurant.

Insider tip: At happy hour, Monday through Friday 2.30 to 6.30, nine appetizers, such as tandoori wings, are $3 or $4 each.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Khurmi Naan

It seems that Tim Carmen of Washington City Paper was not wowed by the Khurmi Naan which otherwise has developed quite a few lovers at SpiceXing restaurant. But at the same time he has made a few valid points. Guess I will have to start using the AMUL cheese which is imported from India and while I was growing up that was the only processed cheese available. Also some other guests have also expressed a desire to have the crust thinner and crispier.

Monday, May 04, 2009

"On Tap" magazine mention

Spice Xing, the newest addition to the Rockville Town Center, has a reserved elegance about it. From the outside, it looks like a quaint and inviting restaurant. When you walk through the doors, your eyes experience an explosion of color. From a ceiling draped in a rainbow of gentle hues of yellow, green, blue and pink fabrics to an outstanding turquoise wall embellished with a plastic Hindu Wishing Tree and amber colored beads, the vibrant atmosphere at Spice Xing appeals to your senses. The two men responsible for Spice Xing are Harry Sanotra and Chef Sudhir Seth. Both have extensive experience in the food and hospitality business. Hailing from two very different regions of India (Sanotra from Kolkata, while Seth is from New Delhi), the menu is a melting pot of food and spice combinations that can only be found within India’s diverse cultures. Including a creative drink list with selections ranging from a Lychee Mojito to a Tamarind Margarita, the Spice Xing menu urges customers to step outside of their comfort zone of Chicken Tikka Masala and Samosas (which are on the menu.) Menu items typed in red signify dishes influenced by other cultures, like the Persian-inspired Salli Boti Jardaloo and Portuguese-style Balchao shrimp. This automatically makes the curious palate want to take a leap into an Indian history lesson that just so happens to be a plate of beautifully choreographed food and flavors. This reasonably priced restaurant , with main dishes ranging from $10.95 to $14.95, deserves a visit. Go ahead…allow yourself to be enamored by the sensory experience. You can thank me later. -- A. Lexington
Spice Xing: 100 Unit B Gibbs St., Rockville, MD; 301-610-0303;

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Indian demo pictures

Enjoy the pictures of the Indian demo at SpiceXing, courtesy Cathy of the DC Salsa meetup group.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Three nods from the press

Wow! Wow! and Wow again!!
My restaurant SpiceXing got three reviews in a span of two days and the floodgates really opened. Now I with my entire team have to step up to the plate and deliver to the level of expectation that has been set for us.
Here is thanking everyone for the support and patronage.
For those who have not read the reviews, the links are posted below:

The Washington Post

The Gazette

The Sentinel

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cooking Class

Another cooking class - this time in the new restaurant at SpiceXing in Rockville MD. The event is organized by Jared and the details can be found on the link provided. People who wish to join in need to contact Jared through the link.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Happy Chef at last

One of our long time guest and now a close friend of mine Pradeep Singh caught me in this rare smile moment. Guess the months of tension of opening the restaurant had dissipated. I am posting this picture to defy all who keep telling me to get rid of the Famous Frown and smile more often, including my wife.

Monday, March 09, 2009


My second restaurant SpiceXing (Spice Crossing) is finally open after an interminable wait of 5 months. It has been a very frustrating experience to go thru the bureaucratic tape for the licences and endless permits. Having my partner Harry and my wife Sonali by my side helped ease a lot of doubts that had come acreeping during this long process. We are going through the same teething problems of any new operation, but enjoying it. Almost reminds me of when I had just become a father and was astonished at the amount of energy/patience that nature gives you when dealing with any challenge.

The dining hall has a high ceiling draped with billowing gold silk curtains and muted lighting. One of the walls has a sea glass jeweled Tree designed and made by our friend Kerbanoo from New York. The comfy armchair Lounge has huge canvas pictures of the Spices that are used in the Indian cuisine. There is a full bar next to the lounge where a whole slew of innovative Maritinis are served thanks to Harry's love for being creative with drinks. There is the ubiquitous flat screen in the bar (much over my objections) for the sports aficionados.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy New Year

Wishing everybody a Happy New Year, though it is twelve days past, but I guess conveying best wishes is nice anytime. 2008 surely had been a tumultous year with war, terrorism, natural calamities, economy and recession plaguing the globe.
I have very fond memories of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai where I began my career in 1977 and learnt the trade from the Masters. It was a real tragedy to see a historic building like that go up in flames and the mindless mayhem that ensued.
I hope that the New Year will bring with it some semblance of peace, sensibility and we will forge ahead to more prosperity and happiness. A lot of change is coming in the political arena too with Obama's being elected as POTUS.
My second restaurant SpiceXing is still three weeks away, thanks to the permitting and licensing delays. Soon I will be able to post a few teaser-pictures of the interior and some snippets of the menu. The menu will feature Indian dishes influenced by foreign cultures, in addition to the contemporary specialties.