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Jewel of India
 Moderated by: Vargr, shadowcat-x, boojum
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 Posted: Wed Mar 24th, 2010 05:40 pm
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boojum
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Location: San Jose, California USA
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Jewel of India

Address:
 2634 Alumn Rock Ave.
               San Jose, Ca. 95116


Website: http://www.jewelofindiainc.com

Phone: (408) 929-5117

    This restraurant is truly a hidden treasure.   It is a very small shop hidden away in a strip mall.  The Jewel of India has, perhaps, 5 tables for people to sit and eat at.   But the food, oh my, the food!

    Vargr and I went there for dinner last night and got their "Shalimar" dinner, which has a wonderfull selection of items:

Dal Soup

Tandoori Chicken

Lamb Tikka Kabab

Chicken Tikka

 

Nan

Maller Paneer

Saag Paneer

Choice of Dessert

Tea or Coffee

     First they brought out the Dal Soup.   This was a very rich soup with bold spices that you could taste at the back of the tounge.   It was very creamy and smooth.

    Next, a still sizzling platter with the Tandoori Chicken, the Lamb Tikka Kabab, and the Chicken Tikka on top of some onions.   The Tandoori Chick was nearly fall of the bone done with a mind warmth to the spices.   The Lamb Tikka Kabab had bolder spices with absolutely no greasy flavor to it.  MMmmmm..  And the Chicken Tikka had the hotter spices.

    When we were about done with this they brought out the next course of food.   This was the Nan, Maller Paneer, and Saag Paneer.   They also brought out our Masala Tea, prepared indian style.    I'm not sure if you've ever had Maller Paneer before.  I hadn't and my, oh my..  was it good!  It is peas and tofu in a curry sauce.   Combined with the Nan you could make a meal just of this dish!   It was sweet with a warm heat the grew on you.    The Saag Paneer is a dish I didn't care for, though Vargr certainly liked it.  It is a mix of spinach and mustard greens with a bit of Tofu.   Much more savory and hot than the Maller Panner. 

     And then there was the tea.  You notice I started a new paragraph for the tea.   Oh my goodnes, was it ever good!  The tea was heavy with cream and sugar...  redolant with rich spices...   and probably had the Caffeine of a whole pot of coffee!   When I drank this tea I could feel myself relax all over..  and by the end of the cup I was ready to just lay down and relax.  *laugh*   Oh MY was it good!  I'm going to have to find out how to make it myself.

     finally, there was the desert.  You will have to forgive me, but I don't know the proper names for ANY of the things we had!   On finding out it was our first stop, the shop owner brought us several small samples of deserts to try.

   There was a small sphere, red on the outside, bready on the inside, covered in what we think was rose water and honey.   Then there was a small cake covered in some sort of milk sauce that Vargr really liked.   Then he brought us some small "cakes" (I'm going to call them.)   One was an Almond Cake that had almost a loose shortbread flavor to it.   Then a Carrot cake (which I didn't care for, unusual for me) that had some interesting spices hidden away under the carrot flavor, and finally there was a Winter Melon.  A Candied slices of melon (as near as I coudl tell) which had a crispy sugar coating while leaving the insides sweet and rich.

    This was the most expensive meal on their menu and cost us about $20 each (before the tip) and was well worth the cost!  I highly reccomend this restaurant for anyone who likes good Indian food.

     But whatever you do, try to keep Vargr away from the HUGE sweets counter that is filled with dozens of different indian specialty sweets!  *laugh*   That was the first place he headed when we arrived and, if we hadn't been stuffed full of yummy food, probably would have teased him into buying some of them to take home and try!

                                                                Boojum the brown bunny

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 Posted: Wed Mar 24th, 2010 09:19 pm
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Vargr
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This wuff heartily agrees with Boojum's assessment of the Jewel of India.

As many know, I delight in finding new ingrediants, and discovering new flavors in ways of preparing more 'traditional' American foods. Jewel of India was a perfect place to indulge both!

The Tandori and Tika chicken were prime examples, transforming 'common' chicken into brand new taste treats.  In addition to the new combinations of flavors and spices in dish, the preparation was top-rate as well.  Tender, fall off the bone, but still juicy and with pleasent texture.

The mixtures of spices and herbs in the dishes were so well blended and complimentary, that Boojum and I had lively discussions on what the ingrediants for many dishes might have been.  The Dal soup, for example.  I suspected there was egg plant involved, and Booj thought perhaps some form of squash.  While investigating recipes for it when we got back home, we were supprised to find that neither ingrediant was featured. But the flavor profiles were so rich and complex, that subtle overtones and 'hints at' aromas resulted in the same sorts of discussions as fine wines frequently elicit. With terms like 'flowery' or 'oaky' or other terms that really don't parallel the ingrediants in the wine itself.

Booj is also dead right about the Tea.  Brewed by the cup for each order, instead of poured from a pot in the back, laced with either cream or frothed milk and a good amount of sugar, it was fragrant, rich, and heaty.  It easily stood up to the strong, complex flavors of the food, and complimented them very nicely!  Booj tends to have the opposite reaction to caffine that Vargr does; it acts rather like a sedative to him.  But, though the amount of the meal put wuff into a bit of a 'food coma' at its end, resulting in a rather early trip hope and to bed, the caffine kicked in along the way and Vargr was well awake and alert by the time he reached the hotel.  In any case, this wuff is SOOO going to have another cup of that before he leaves town this trip!

The Vegie dishes were delightful! Never had a semi-sweet curry like that in the Mallar Paneer.  Just a little hint of curry warmth, with rich buttery 'mouth feel' to the sauce, plenty of sweet peas, and tender cubes of tofu.  Served with the fresh, tasty Nan bread, Vargr could easily have made a light, lovely lunch of this alone.

Booj isn't really a spinach fan, so wuff isn't too surprised he wasn't as thrilled with the Saag Paneer, because it certainly had a very pronounced spinach flavor to it.  But Vargr loves creamed spinach, and this was an excellent variation on that theme.  The mustard greens combined with the other spices in the dish gave it more of a heat and impact than common creamed spinach.  The spice mixture blended well with the other dishes of the Shalimar, and it was quite a hearty, robust result.  For those with a taste for spinach, Vargr would certainly recommend this dish.  Once again, served with Nan, it would make a very nice light lunch offering for those wanting a hearty veggie meal.

The desserts were definitely a great finish to a wonderful meal.  The flavors were so different from each other!  The first looked a lot like a standard 'donut hole', but served in a small saucer and covered with a light, sweet sauce. There was definitely a pronounced flavor of honey in the sauce, reminding this wuff a little of another ethnic dessert - Baclava.  And the cream-covered patty was a bit reminiscent of a bread pudding with a light milk/cream covering, with hints of mint and sweet spices.

The three individual little taste treats were great too! Vargr loves his Walkers shortbread cookies. That almond cookie item was as rich and buttery as those, but softer, with distinctive almond highlights.  The carrot cake had very predominant carrot flavors, but the binder had an unusual arrangement of other flavors and spices that neither of us could identify.

And the candied winter melon was like a jellied shot of sugar, with light melon flavor overtones, a slight crunch of the dried sugar syrup on the surface, and a tender, juicy interior. Couldn't eat too many of these, as they're SO sweet.  But one or two would be a wonderful finish for folks with a sweet tooth.

The staff was quite friendly, though service might have been a little 'iffy' had the place been busier. Still, with the small number of tables, they ought to be able to keep up.  For supper, the pace was leisurely, with time to chat, sample, and enjoy each course before the next one arrived.  Since the Shalimar meal contains so many items, its probably one of the longest dining sessions to be had at this place. Having one of the single items would likely speed the results to the table, if you're looking for more of an "in and out" meal, say, for lunch.

They also offer call ahead and take out service, for those even more pressed for time.

The menu is quite extensive, though not entirely translated into English. Having a "smart phone" to look up item names, if one is not well versed in Indian cuisine, might not be a bad idea.  Or you can do as wuff is planning, just work down through the menu and "try the next item this time". Though, with the number of dishes offered and wuff's infrequent travel events, it may take years to finish the list.

Oh yes, Boojum mentioned the "Sweets" part of the store.  WOW!  A double shelfed glass display case/counter covers the entire rear wall of the store.  And it was absolutely bursting with every manner of little, finger-sized "nibblies"! Each piled high on its own sheet pan.  No idea what they were, but every one of them was certainly 'drool worthy' to browse over. 

The last three dessert tastings on our meal were items from that case, selected by the owner. If the rest of the items within are as varied and delightful as those three, this is definitely worth a "sampling stop" all on its own, to pick up some sweet delights for special tea or desserts for the evening meals at the end of day.

Price:  GOOD!  The most expensive item on the menu is the Salimar, at around $19 each.  A diner should be able to get out around $10 for most anything else, including Nan, the entree, and a drink.

FOOD: EXCELLENT! No complaints at all this time. Everything was hot, fresh, well prepared, and tasty. The main platter was sizzling and crackling as it arrived.

SERVICE: Acceptable.  Wuff has had faster and more attentive wait staff in other establishments, but this was certainly quick enough to suit the style of meal we had.  A bit more attention on water glasses might have been nice. May have to check during busier hours of the day to see if they have more staff on hand and faster response.

OVER ALL:  Definitely on the "RETURN" list! Looking forward to eating here many more times!



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