As you drive along New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring looking for a place to eat, picking out a gem might prove challenging. It helps to know where the treasures are among the restaurants tucked away in non-descript shopping centers. Some diners consider the food, decor and service at Jewel of India to be one of the prizes.
"I find their food is more flavorful than some of the other Indian restaurants," said Brenda Walker, a patron who visits the restaurant weekly. "It has more punch and so, I really, really like it."
Walker lives near the Jewel of India located at 10151 New Hampshire Ave. in the Hillandale Shopping Center. She and the Newmans like the convenience of browsing in the stores and stopping in the restaurant for the buffet lunch.
"We've been here probably a half a dozen times since they opened. We like Indian food and we like the variety. They don't have the same dishes every time we come," said Linda Newman.
She and her husband, Michael, appreciate the fact that the buffet chef prepares some different entrees, desserts and appetizers each day.
"I like stuff that is a little spicier than my wife does. They generally have some spicy things, very well-flavored," added Michael Newman.
The couple also appreciates service at the one-year-old Jewel of India. The owner, Amand Poojary, opened Woodlands, a vegetarian restaurant in Langley Park several years ago. Jewel's manager, Augustine Goomes, described Poojary as a well-known expert in the variety of cuisines associated with different regions of India.
"He knows Northern Indian cuisine very well. He has been in business more than 20 years and has worked in New York and New Jersey," said Gomes.
Poojary's newest restaurant has meat and seafood dishes as well as vegetarian items on the menu. Some of Jewel's regular patrons know how the primary ingredients and spices in the North India differ from those used for cooking in South India.
"In the south, they use a lot of coconut. We don't use coconut in our food," explained Norma Ressalam, a Beltsville resident who is a native of North India. "We use more ginger, garlic and onion. Tandoori comes from the North."
Ressalam's friend, Robin Richmond, piped in with the comment that the food in South India is also hotter, like the climate. She is a fan of the country's different cuisines.
"I've been to a lot of different restaurants in the Maryland and DC area. This has actually been one of my favorites," said Richmond, a Silver Spring resident. "The food is excellent. The way they do the spices, and the cooking, it is just right."
"He liked the Chicken 65. It is an Indo-Chinese dish," said Goomes, the manager. "It is small pieces of chicken and Indian spices, marinated overnight and then deep fried. It is served with a red chili sauce."
The restaurant's Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Salmon and Tandoori Lamb Chops are popular, and so are the vegetarian Palak Paneer, Malai Kofta and Navratan Korma. There are about 10 items on the Jewel menu that combine Indian and Chinese influences. A selection of Indian breads, rice dishes and desserts are also available.
Appetizers are priced from $5 to $10. Most entrees are in the $12 to $16 range, with seafood costing a few dollars more. Breads and desserts are about $4.
The full-service bar whips up a large selection of specialty drinks priced at $8 to $10. They include fusion drinks such as Pineapple Caipirinha and Ginger Mango Martini. Nonalcoholic drinks including homemade lemonade, mint limeade and mango lassi are on the menu.
The Jewel of India is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The buffet is not available for carryout, but the restaurant has a take out menu. The restaurant also does catering for weddings, parties and other events.
Check out the Jewel of India online for more information about the menu and hours of operation or call 301-408-2200.