Jewel of India – Albany, NY
Sometimes, you have to let your cravings dictate where you end up. On this particular night, I was looking for something close to Cheesecake Machismo because I just had to try their Chupacabra slice.
But, anyway, my friend @kimelodic suggested an Indian restaurant on Lark street called Jewel of India (187 Lark Street Albany, NY 12210). I figured a complexly spiced Indian dinner would be a great prelude to dessert.
After parking on the street around the corner, I arrived at the restaurant around 5 pm on a Saturday, and I was the only diner in the restaurant. [Note on parking: according to their website, they have parking available, so call ahead if parking downtown frustrates you or if you are going when there’s an event going on near Lark Street.] The phone was ringing off the hook with orders. The young man who waited my table was unnecessarily apologetic for having to sneak away to answer the phone a few times while I was placing my order.
As an appetizer, I tried the meat samosas (spiced minced lamb, chopped ginger, and onion in a flaky pastry – $3.99).
The portion was modest for $4, and it was served with tamarind, onion, and mint chutneys. [But, yes, it was served on a bed of lettuce which is a bit of a peeve of mine with fried foods.]
Upon cracking open a samosa, the fragrance of the ginger and spices was very prevalent.
What was inside was dry but flavorful. There were some peas inside in addition to the lamb, but the chutneys really helped to add some moisture and other flavorings. I was keen on the slightly thin tamarind chutney, which had just the right sweetness and tang.
As my main course, I ordered morag hari mirch (Spicy. Chicken flavored with curry leaves and hot green chilies. Served with basmati rice. – $10.99).
I decided on this because the young man told me it was spicier than their vindaloo. I’m a madman when it comes to spicy Indian dishes.
It was served with a giant cauldron of fragrant basmati rice spiked with cumin seeds.
I opted for roti (basically whole wheat naan – $1.99) to use to pick up meat and sauce.
The chicken dish was good. It had a great balance of seasonings, including curry leaves and mustard seeds which provide a great little pop to stews. I thought it was a bit on the salty side, and it could have been because the hari mirch peppers were added to the stew as a pickle (or achar).
I really did enjoy the dish, though, and I thought that $11 was totally reasonable considering they give a modest amount of rice. Had I not been mentally committed to cheesecake for dessert, I would have topped the meal off with either kheer (Indian rice pudding laced with cardamom) or gulab jamun (fried milk balls soaked in honey syrup with cardamom.).