Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

The Foodie Guide To India: Have You Been To These 5 Iconic Restaurants Yet?

From historic addresses attached to freedom struggles to those made famous by their dishes, we round up some of the most iconic restaurants in India that are actually worth a visit.

Customers line up to buy Christmas cakes at Nahoum & Sons in Kolkata
Customers line up to buy Christmas cakes at Nahoum & Sons in Kolkata Rudra Narayan Mitra / Shutterstock

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. It is said that the founders were among the chefs at the royal court of Red Fort. 

Britannia & Co, Mumbai

A cosy Irani café tucked inside Mumbai’s Ballard Estate prides itself on its classic dishes. Not for leisurely eating—they tend to have groups come in, order and go. Started by Roshan Kohinoor during the pre-independence era, it is run and managed by the third generation of the Kohinoor family. This quaint little place is responsible for putting the famous Berry Pulav on the world map. Credit for the recipe goes to Bachan Kohinoor, wife of the late Boman Kohinoor, who inherited the business from his father. Though a little more expensive than its counterparts, Britannia’s patrons count on it for rasberry soda and salli boti. 

Tunday Kababi, Lucknow

Any discussion about the kebabs of Lucknow inevitably starts with the galawati (or galouti) kebab, considered one of the signature dishes of the city of nawabs. These special melt-in-the-mouth kebabs were originally created during the 19th century for Nawab Wajid Ali Shah who, it is rumoured, had lost his teeth but still desired the taste of kebabs. A one-armed cook named Haji Murad Ali perfected the recipe of the galawati. His son opened Tunday Kababi (or the one-armed man’s kebab), a 100-year-old establishment that still serves the galawati made according to the original, secret recipe. The original branch of Tunday is near the Chowk on a narrow lane called Phool Wali Gali. They have a few other branches, with the branch in Aminabad being particularly good. 

MTR, Bengaluru

This legendary joint has seen the freedom struggle and WWII, and still stands strong. The birthplace of rava idlis, MTR was started in 1924 (under the name, Brahmin Coffee Club) by the Maiya brothers on Lalbagh Fort Road, serving coffee and idlis. Today, it is known to be a pioneer in the readymade food industry. What started off as a survival technique during the emergency in ’75 has paved its way into the hearts of the townies. But much before being a game changer in the instant foods sector MTR had managed to establish itself as the go to place for comfort food. MTR till date thrives on its integrity and the loyalty of the customers with a footfall of almost 1,500 customers every day.

Nahoum & Sons, Kolkata

Not strictly a restaurant, this bakery was established in 1902 in Hoggs Market (today's New Market), and specialised in chocolate, marzipan and fudge. Founded by Israel Mordecai, a Baghdadi Jew, in 1902, it is still run by the family. At one time, Christmas in Calcutta (the former name of Kolkata) was never complete without a rich fruit cake from Nahoum’s. It is one of their oldest standing items and can last up to three weeks in the winter. They were even served as a celebration treat during Republic Day at Raj Bhavan for many years. Apart from their pastries and desserts, they are known for the cheese samosas made with a locally made cheese. And their range of biscuits and cookies. Nahoum's is Kolkata's only Jewish bakery that still remains, as does its original teakwood and glass display cases that give this bakery its old-world charm. Make sure to go there with patience and time on your hands as the line can be ridiculously long, but it is completely worth the wait.