In a land bursting with cuisines and restaurants to go with it, ‘iconic’ is sometimes a status granted all too easily in India. Yet, there are a few names that immediately pop up when a city’s name is mentioned. In fact, one is incomplete without the other.
In this series of iconic restaurants in India, we take you through one each of these establishments, popular in their own right, in different parts of the country.
In the conflict-riddled valleys of Jammu and Kashmir, peace is an offering best made as a plateful of good food. Or even better, as a full course meal. The Wazwan is what the Kashmiris call their grand, multi-dish spread full of fifteen to thirty dishes with succulent meats, kebabs and lots of dry fruits. Eponymously named is Wazwan, a restaurant in Jammu most often referred to as iconic.
It occupies a place inside the JKTDC (Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department Corporation) and serves authentic Kashmiri cuisine. You can opt for the trami (a buffet meal) or individual dishes such as the rogan josh, tabak maaz, mutton yakhni, korma, among others. Although the ambience can be most kindly described as fusty, with its furniture and rugs dating back to the past century, visitors look neither left nor right while visiting, with only one thing on their mind: a taste of Kashmir.
Kayani Bakery, Pune
When Kayani Bakery first opened in 1955, it wasn’t an overnight success. It took a little time for word of its baked goodies to spread around Pune city, but when people did get a whiff of those warm sweet treats, there was no looking back. The butter-laden shrewsbury biscuits have a massive popularity of their own. Apart from these round butter disks that make the eater feel guilty instantaneously, the bakery makes its mawa cakes and sponge cakes best.
They did suffer a minor hiccup at the end of 2017 when authorities asked Kayani Bakery to shut shop for a month, but that was soon smoothened over. Today, ask anyone on Pune’s East Street, or all of India, for that matter and they will gladly point you to Kayani Bakery’s sweet direction.
Murugan Idli Shop, Chennai
Idlis come a dime a dozen in South India, yet one shop has got its name on everybody’s tongue—the Murugan Idli Shop. The first idli batter was churned in a small shop in Madurai, when it instantly became a roaring success. After that, many more branches as well as items on the menu were added, with the Murugan Idli Shop now reigning in over twenty five locations in Chennai, three in Madurai and even two abroad, one of course a famous breakfast establishment in Singapore’s Little India. People flock to the nearest outfit not just for the fluffy steamed idls but also for its accompaniments, the spicy podi (gunpowder), chutney and no-nonsense approach.
If Britto’s at first seems too recent to be a part of this list, hear this: Goa’s most well-known restaurant has actually been around for more than 40 years. Located at the far end of Baga road, Britto’s is a local seafare and continental cuisine-serving eatery that is on every tourist’s to-visit itinerary. If not for its pork vindaloo, the restaurant always draws in a crowd for its karaoke nights and proximity to the beach.
Glenary’s Restaurant & Bar, Darjeeling
To visit Darjeeling and not have a loaf of bread from Glenary’s is nothing short of blasphemy. Or so the locals claim at least. At the bakery in the heart of Chauk Bazaar, it is always a good time for tea. Enter, and tea is poured (Darjeeling, naturally), vanilla cake is cut into generous slices and chocolate thins are served. This colonial style café has been around since the early twentieth century and has donned several names since then: Vado, Plida and lastly, Glenary’s when it was sold to the late A. T. Edwards.
Although there is more beyond the pies, pastries and cakes here, the general word on the block is that you should come for the bakery and skip the restaurant.
To read Part 1 of India's Most Iconic restaurants, visit here.