Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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RESTAURANT REVIEW:
Affordable Jewel also yummy

Jewel of India
390 Richmond St.
434-9268

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette

When one thinks of Indian food, "spicy" is the word that often comes to mind first. While curries are typically served with a kick to the taste buds, there is a world of other dishes and tastes in Indian cuisine.

For 19 years, a little Indian restaurant on Richmond Street has been pleasing its patrons with fine dining and friendly service. It is a cozy establishment with comfortable seating and dim lighting – perfect for couples to indulge their taste buds and stimulate intimate conversation.

Such a setting will initially give patrons the impression that Jewel of India is a fine dining restaurant. The dishes are plentiful, colourful and bursting with complex flavours, but the prices are surprisingly affordable.

Appetizers range from a miniscule $1.45 for Dall soup (a lentil soup with spices) to the mixed appetizer dish for $4.25. The latter dish is generous and, for those with a smaller appetite, it can serve as their main course since it comes with a vegetable samosa, onion bhaji (deep fried onion and lentil flour cake), pakora (deep fried vegetable cake), salad, a little bit of tikka chicken and dipping sauces that accentuate the diverse flavours.

The bhoma prawn on puri bread is a more spicy dish, but a solid start to your meal. Flavoured with spices and fresh cilantro, the shrimp are few and small, but for the low price of $3.50, who can complain?

Picking an entrée from the menu is a difficult task: beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp, vegetarian, spicy, non-spicy? The options are endless and there truly is something for everyone. From biryanis (meat or vegetables fried in ghee with almonds, coconuts and sultanas) to curry to tandoori, everything is tempting.

Butter chicken ($10.65) is one of the most popular Indian dishes and Jewel of India does it well. It is a tasty dish of tikka chicken cooked with spices and sultans in yogurt and cream, topped with slivered almonds and served with pulao rice. The serving is plentiful and this rich dish is so delicious it melts in your mouth like fine Belgian chocolate.

The tandoori platter ($13.95) is the dish for diners who can't seem to make up their minds. Arriving sizzling hot to your table, the platter comes with shrimp and lamb tikka, sheek kabob (ground beef sausage), tandoori chicken, salad and a tangy mint sauce. Lacking flavour, the sheek kabob is quite mediocre compared to the other foods on the platter. Most noteworthy are the moist and smokey tandoori chicken and the lamb tikka, which boasts sweet, fruity marinade.

Accompanying the platter is Jewel of India's fresh nan bread, the highlight of its bread menu. There is a diverse variety of Indian bread; nan ($1.60) is the most popular selection, as it's perfect for dipping into sauces and eating with meats.

The dessert menu at Jewel of India is limited, but the gulab jamun ($1.50) is something everyone should try. Described as deep fried cheese balls, the small dish is more reminiscent of a small cake pastry soaked in sugary sweetness.

The coffee menu also offers some eclectic drinks one won't be able to find anywhere else. Garlic coffee with whiskey ($4.35), anyone? Perhaps glypson coffee with Tia Maria ($4.50) is more to your liking.

The prices at Jewel of India are modest throughout the day, but it is the lunch combos which are the best deals. For a mere $5.95 to $6.95, lunch is served with soup, papadum (a thin wafer-like food), entrée (everything from tandoori to curry), rice or nan and dessert.

Only a bus ride away, this jewel beats Centrespot any day of the week.

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