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Jewel of India

Rating: 14.5/20

  • 24 West Row, Melbourne Building, City (also in Manuka), 6162 1845
  • www.jewelofindia.com.au
  • Owner Venkatesh Ramachandran, chef Venkatesh Ramachandran and Anil Uniyal
  • Open lunch Monday to Friday, dinner seven days
  • Licensed and BYO, corkage $7.50 a bottle
  • Wheelchair access, disabled toilets
  • Manuka: first floor (no wheelchair access), Manuka Court, 11 Bougainville Street, 6295 7037, same hours

Venkatesh Ramachandran, who came to Australia from Bombay in 1990, has two Jewels of India, his first opened in an upstairs Manuka mall in 1997 and his second in the Melbourne Building early last year.

We generally head to the city because here you'll get some regional specialties and a bunch of goat recipes, and how can you go past that?

Order the Rajasthani hunter's goat curry ($18.90) for a dark, meaty and intense hot dish, or the Kolhapuri goat from Maharashtra ($18.90) for a hot, spice-driven thick gravy of mace, cloves and cinnamon, red with chilli, and sticking to the meat, cooked on the bone.

We've only recently discovered the delicacy with which Jewel handles fish, and it's now on our must-order list from this place, because when you order ocean perch fillets ($16.90) for an entree, you get fillets coated in a spiced chickpea flour and fried so beautifully, they're pink and translucent and flaking.


The same goes for a Calcutta curry with ocean perch, fish methi masala ($19.90), a distinctive dish with fenugreek and mustard.

With breads from the tandoor oven, and a creamy dish of black lentils (dal makhni, $15.50), you're well served here.

Beer is probably the advisable drink, or lassi, since the wine list doesn't offer great excitement, and very little by the glass.

The look in the city and in Manuka is a little old-fashioned, but well presented, with a little colour and liveliness on the walls.

White table linen, carpets on the floors, comfortable, spacious seating, and we've often wished a funky, modern makeover on the place, incongruous as that seems in the context of its gentle and urbane owner.

But even as it stands, Jewel is a firm favourite and stands as one of the few non-European-based restaurants to make this list. An Indian restaurant where the food and the customers are taken seriously.