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Pesto Meets Paneer at Penn Quarter’s Experimental Indian Restaurant

Newcomer Karma Modern Indian is projected to arrive right before the holidays

The open kitchen at Karma Modern Indian.
Photo by John Robinson for Karma Modern Indian
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

More details are emerging about Karma Modern Indian, the new Penn Quarter restaurant arriving later this month that aims to weave nontraditional Indian ingredients into its upscale offerings.

The forthcoming establishment (611 I Street NW), from owners Sachin Mahajan and Ricky Singh, is projected to feature a variety of small plates composed by executive chef and New Delhi native Ajay Kumar. He plans to update classic Indian cuisine by marrying staples such as naan, paneer, and lamb with accents such as truffles, pesto, and star fruit. Other featured items getting tossed into the culinary mix include quinoa, duck, and octopus.

Bar director Dominik Lenikowski has designed a drink list featuring five specialty cocktails at a time. Debut selections include a Hot Taadi (palm sap, cardamom, cinnamon and rum). Much of the wine will adhere to biodynamic winemaking practices, which is definitely becoming a thing in D.C.

The 5,000-square-foot, Swatchroom-designed space features high ceilings and rich pops of grey, gold, and navy colors paired alongside wooden textures. There’s three areas for dining and drinking, including a sleek bar and lounge; a main dining room and a private dining section that seats up to 35; and a 12-seat, front-row view of the open kitchen that’s stocked with three tandoor ovens.

Stay tuned for additional details about Karma’s menu and the expected opening date.