Do you ever wish that a stranger would anonymously gift you a delicious, vegetarian Indian meal? And does that urge to brighten someone’s day with a delicious, vegetarian Indian meal ever overtake you? Luckily, Karma Kitchen in Dupont Circle will allow you to partake in just such an “experiment in generosity,” and fill both your belly and soul for the day.
Located in what is normally Dalchinni Indian restaurant, Karma Kitchen exists only on Sundays from 12-3pm. Everything on the menu costs $0.00, because the idea is that the attendees of last week’s brunch have already paid for your meal. You have the option of contributing any sum—including nothing—for the brunch in an envelope at the end of the meal. The folks at Karma Kitchen are quick to point out that the food isn’t free—it is a gift, and philosophically there is a big difference.
The mouth-watering, all-you-can-eat menu changes every week, but is always vegetarian and once a month is vegan. The food when I attended consisted of mango lassis, chai tea, saag paneer, sweet potatoes and peas, chana peshawir, and kheer to top it off. All servers and hosts are volunteers from around the entire metro area, and the food is made by Dalchinni employees (the restaurant receives an undisclosed amount at the end of each Sunday afternoon to cover food costs and labor).
Where else could something like this have started than Berkeley, California?! The Karma Kitchen in Berkeley provided the capital for the DC location to begin, which then paid for the Chicago location. Karma Kitchen founders are currently in talks about new locations, perhaps New York City and perhaps international.
My favorite part of the experience was when our host made everyone in the whole restaurant get up for a dance break. He blasted bhangra music from a small boom box, and we all swayed to the Indian beats, cracking up but getting groovy by the end! This sort of hippie-dippie love-fest happens all too rarely in our city, and made my heart swell just a little bit bigger. Or was that full feeling just all of the Indian food I had ingested? Whatever it was, I walked away from Karma Kitchen feeling recharged, optimistic, and ready to take on life’s challenges, I expect that even a cynic would have a hard time not cracking a smile!
To visit: 1736 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC. 202-483-8705. Sundays 12-3pm. Red line Metro, 42 or L2 bus lines.