From the moment you step through the door of Indian Jewel, you are transported away from the bustle of Prague’s Old Town Square and into an entirely different world. A world filled with the tantalizing aromas of curry, cumin, and coriander. A world full of vivid colors and exotic patterns. A world representative of the country it aims to bring to life: India.
Indian Jewel is the successful conception of owner Sanjeev Wadehra’s decades-long pursuit to bring authentic, crowd-pleasing North Indian cuisine to the Czech Republic’s capital city.
“It’s the real culinary passage to India,” said Wadehra, alluding to the restaurant’s slogan that hangs proudly above its entrance.
Wadehra came to Prague from New Delhi, India in 1996 and opened Prague’s second ever Indian restaurant. But after it was destroyed by the Prague flood in 2002, Wadehra was forced to vacate the premises and start over. Four years later, he opened Indian Jewel just behind Old Town Square’s Church of Our Lady before Týn. Initially driven in popularity by Prague’s extensive expat community, the restaurant has gradually gained momentum among Czech clientele over the years.
At Indian Jewel, sitting and waiting for your food to arrive isn’t a test of patience. Instead, it’s a feast for the eyes. Take the opportunity to visually explore the carefully selected decor surrounding you. Vibrantly colorful paintings and drawings deck nearly every wall, with many incorporating lavish jewelry brought from India into the piece itself.
But when the food does arrive, it deservedly gets all of the attention. You can’t go wrong ordering lamb and potato samosas as a starter, or the onion pakoras if you’d prefer something a bit less filling. While these fried delicacies stand on their own, the true star here is the mint dipping sauce served with them. The perfect blend of freshness and spice, it expertly complements the heaviness of these traditional appetizers.
Next comes the main course. Courses, rather, as family style sharing is definitely the way to go. Chicken Tikka Masala is a personal favorite, and it does not disappoint. The sauce refrains from going overboard with a tomato-y taste, which brings out the other flavors — garlic, onion, cumin, and just a hint of coriander. It pairs perfectly with garlic naan and ‘zafrani pullao’, a pale yellow basmati rice that’s flavored with saffron and other spices.
Owning an Indian restaurant in the heart of Central Europe has made Wadehra extremely conscientious of the fact that those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine may not be able to handle the typical spiciness of dishes served in India. For this reason, he includes several non-spicy options. A must-try is the Chicken Pasanda, a dish that boasts a just-sweet-enough creamy almond sauce, topped with delicately sliced almonds. But if you do decide to venture into spicier territory, don’t worry — the restaurant’s air conditioning (a relatively rare find in Prague) will help keep you cool and comfortable.
If you’re in the mood for red meat, order the flavor-rich Lamb Rogan Josh or the smoky, spicy Lamb Vindaloo (apparently Anthony Hopkins’ choice when he dined here). Wadehra imports the restaurant’s lamb from New Zealand, and like all of the ingredients used in the restaurant’s food, the quality is undeniable.
And finally, the grand finale: dessert. Here, the genius is in the simplicity. For the sweet tooth, Gulab Jamun (milk dumplings soaked in sugar syrup with rose water) is a no-brainer. More like a balled-up pancake than a dumpling, these hot, bite-size spheres of mouth-watering goodness will satisfy your soul (or burn your tongue, if you’re not careful). For a less sweet, but still satisfying option, try the Kheer (saffron flavored Indian rice pudding).
Part of what distinguishes Indian Jewel is Wadehra’s commitment to giving his customers an unrivaled experience in terms of both food and service. Present in the restaurant most nights, Wadehra believes that interacting with guests is as essential as providing fresh, high-quality food.
“Giving service to your customers is important for building that relationship,” he said.
This attentiveness is also reflected by Wadehra’s staff. Throughout the meal, waiters regularly check to make sure you have everything you need, without being interruptive or intrusive. If you’d prefer to sit in the restaurant’s outdoor section, they are more than happy to do what they can to accommodate you.
Today, there are numerous Indian restaurants throughout Prague. But its customer-centric approach combined with exceptional Indian cuisine is what makes Indian Jewel a true gem in the heart of Prague.
|Indian Jewel |
Týn 6, Prague 1 - Staré Město
Daily: 11.00 - 23.00
TEL.: +420 725 107 059, +420 222 310 156