Newburyport’s Jewel in the Crown offers authentic Indian cuisine. By Anna and David Kasabian
If you’re craving an intense Indian food fix in a comfortable venue with attentive service and fair prices, then Jewel in the Crown is your kind of restaurant. Step inside and, suddenly, you are wrapped in a warmly lit room that speaks from the heart of India, with exotic objects and festive paintings-all brought from the homeland-that set the mood for a delightful food adventure.
No sooner were we seated than our waiter placed before us a plate of warm papad, the traditional crisp and thin flatbread without which no Indian meal is complete. Alongside it was served a spirited, hot onion chutney and a zesty sweet-and-sour tamarind dipping sauce.
First appetizer: the Vegetable Pokora, a satisfying symphony of cauliflower, potato, spinach, and onion dredged in chickpea-flour batter and fried. Next, the Lamb Samosa, a savory concoction of lamb, peas, and potatoes wrapped in a flaky pastry and fried crisp. Both come with tangy mint chutney that adds a bright high note.
Of course, we had to order the iconic Tikka Masala, the now-classic recipe of tender roast chicken simmered in cream and tomatoes with ginger, garlic, and, in this case, the restaurant’s own spicy Indian curry sauce. Next was the Lamb Korma, another classic recipe, this one 500 years old. Think of a stick-to-your-ribs stew with onions, ginger, garlic, curry, ground cashews, and raisins. A platter of toothsome and fragrant basmati rice is served on the side.
We ordered the Aloo Naan-a wheat bread stuffed with potatoes, peas, and spices and cooked in a tube-shaped, coal-fired oven called a tandoor-a serendipitous choice because, as it turns out, the naan is perfect for sopping up the sauces.
For dessert, we enjoyed the Badami Kheer, a lightly sweetened, soup-like rice pudding flavored with cashews, raisins, almonds, and the wondrous, fragrant essence of cardamom. Looking to add a few more bars to the sweet meter? Try the Gulab Jamun-cake-textured fritters that soak up the clove-and-cardamom-infused syrup in which they are bathed.
Ranjeet Gahunia, the manager and a partner with family members (they also operate Passage to India in Salem, Massachusetts, and Kashmir Indian Cuisine in Salem, New Hampshire), says Jewel’s recipes are authentic, rooted in Indian tradition, and come exclusively from family. This comes as no surprise, because Jewel in the Crown is absolutely the real thing.
23 Pleasant Street