Truth be told, I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to curries. Every time I order a 'mild' dish, the Indian expat serving me struggles to contain his smile -no doubt amused by my westernised palette.
But I'm heartened by the fact I'm clearly not alone in my penchant for creamy curries with very little 'kick'. Time after time after time, Indian restaurateurs have informed me, with thinly-veiled exasperation, their most popular dish is (mild) Butter Chicken. The traditional combination of marinated chicken, tomato and cashews (with lashings of butter, cream and ghee), is justifiably ubiquitous at Indian joints around Brisbane. As such, I was a little baffled to find a place on the city's north side without the staple dish amongst six others on their buffet menu.
Jewel of India at Enoggera decided to forego the omnipresent buttery chook in favour of Chicken Tikka Masala; so I piled up a plate of it on my first trip to the buffet. It was a decidedly uninspiring offering. There was not enough chicken amongst the sauce and far too many pods of cardamom, which unfortunately masked many of the other spices. The delicious buttery flavour and thick sauce consistency that's found in a good butter chicken was lacking; overall it was disappointing.
After this initial setback, I decided to heap my plate full of beef, in the form of a 'Hot' Madras. I assumed the heat of the dish would be relatively tame as the 'mild' chicken had no tang whatsoever. I was shocked then to feel a burning sensation on my tastebuds after my first mouthful of the chilli-laden curry. But 5 minutes later my shock had intensified- my plate was empty. The mix of toasty spices, chilli and tender beef was extremely satisfying, and enough to convince a true 'spicy sceptic' of the merits of hot Indian cuisine.
The accompaniments to the meal were nice, if not exceptionally tasty; saffron rice, naan bread (plain, garlic, cheese and garlic), yoghurt, pappadums and an assortment of chutneys were there as well as fresh fruit for a simple dessert. The décor was traditional and comforting with lots of intricate paintings and gold-plated figurines adorning the walls.
Jewel of India has been running for over ten years now, and it's apparent this is a venue frequented often by those seeking a curry fix. Seasoned creamy curry connoisseurs won't find anything earth-shattering, but for those braver souls who enjoy the hearty, hot and spicy Jewel Of India is well worth a look.
Presentation 6/10 Taste 6.5/10 Service 8/10 Ambiance 8/10