The history of Indian cuisine is as old as time and as fresh as a newly minted coin. Chefs keep the tradition alive in the various iconic restaurants which dot the country. Everyday brings new footfall to savour the aroma of yesterday.
Karim’s, Old Delhi
A short walk from Jama Masjid along the by lanes of Old Delhi brings you to Karim’s. Established in 1913 by Haji Karimuddin, it is now the city's most famous culinary destination. The restaurant’s aim has always been to serve royal food to the common man. From kormas to koftas and the crowd favourite biryani, every item on the menu is a delicacy. But beware, a long queue outside the door is a regular feature.
Tunday Kababi, Lucknow
The term ‘tunday’ derives from the one-armed Haji Murad Ali who started a kebab-paratha shop in Gol Darwaza Street in 1905. The aroma of spice coated meat sizzling on fire hits you as soon you reach the Chowk area. Today the city is synonymous with his succulent galauti kebabs. A total of 125 ingredients inclusive of raw papaya is what gives the meat its world-famous tenderness. The recipe of this signature dish is still a well-guarded family secret.
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Breakfast is what Glenary’s has been known for since the British era. Opened by an Italian named Vado this bakery cum restaurant is a major landmark on Darjeeling’s Mall Road. With French windows and a terrace overlooking the city, a meal with a view is how one can describe their experience here. Age-old recipes of tempting tarts, marzipans and chocolates are added bonuses. An original fireplace, a vintage typewriter and a red telephone booth are what lead to its old-time charm.
Shaikh Brothers Bakery, Guwahati
From colonial officers to post-independence political figures all have held this bakery in high regard. The joint was Assam’s passage into Western confectionery. Fluffy cakes, decadent pastries and freshly baked loaves of bread line the shelves and come late afternoon you are likely to have slim pickings. Due to globalisation and popular demand the menu has been updated and now includes hotdogs and burgers – economics has also called for the bakery to share space with a departmental store selling provisions and cosmetic
Leopold Café, Mumbai
This iconic establishment has truly stood the test of time. You can still see the bullet-riddled walls and mirrors from the 26/11 terrorist attacks. But this has just increased the curio value of the place in the eyes of both locals and foreigners who hail it as a symbol of defiance. An attentive staff and a cosmopolitan menu add to its legendary status. Soak in history as you enjoy a beer tower.
Dorabjee and Sons, Pune
138 years ago, Sorabjee Dorabjee started a tea stall which he later expanded into a restaurant. Today his great grandson proudly carries on his legacy. Don’t expect a fine dining experience or glamorous décor, the owners vehemently emphasize on being old-fashioned. You can choose from multiple authentic Parsi Irani dishes prepared traditionally on a charcoal fire. You can also sneak a peek into the menus from the years gone by where rates are mentioned in annas and not rupees.
Hari Ram and Sons, Allahabad
Fresh, fragrant and famous are the samosas, pakoras and palak bhajiyas of this quaint street food store. Pure ghee is their calling card and plays an imminent role in keeping up the crispiness quota of these namkeen delights. Step inside the simple interiors, stop, feast your eyes on the exhibits. Buy in bulk to store and satiate your midnight cravings.
Allen’s Kitchen, Kolkata
This is a tiny eatery is the namesake of a Scottish gentleman named Allen. But today it is operated by the Bengali descendants of the original staff running it. A limited but well-mastered ‘heavenly’ menu is offered to all those who visit. The shop has been pampering Bengali taste buds for 132 years. According to loyalists, the prawn cutlet is melt in your mouth and hence a must try.