Cuisine marriage: Bakeries add flavour to Delhi food street

  • HT Weekend Team, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 01, 2015 10:37 IST

Representatives from every ethnic group in India and a few from beyond its borders too now live in the National Capital Region. It's no surprise then that a range of eateries serve everything from Naga and other north eastern cuisines to Bengali, Malayali, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Afghan food. Then there are the cafes and bakeries that are subtly changing our tastes, adding an exotic bread to our tables and a ginseng shot to our teas.

While the city's small population of Koreans has introduced us to the joys of rice wine, they have also pushed us to try hitherto unheard of treats like red bean buns with their understated sweetness quite unlike the richness of an Indian mithai or even the fullness of a pastry. Their range of breads include chestnut and butter loaves that hold their own against the baguettes and croissants available at L'Opera, the best known authentic French bakery in the city. The Indian palate that craves the dulcitude of a rasgulla or a jalebi has taken quite enthusiastically to the airy sugar dusted buns and kiwi fruit embellished Danish pastries that fly off this café's shelves. And then there's the Middle Eastern twist supplied by Kunafa with its fine Arabic sweets and coffees. There's no telling where all this mixing up of tea and snacks will take us. Will the average Indian start washing down his daily slice of apricot-flavoured Ho-ho bread with Jordanian coffee? Will the French boule come to nestle alongside the aloo paratha on the Dilliwala's thaali? For answers to those questions, watch your plate!

French Rendezvous

It was after their daughter married and moved to India that Kazem Samandari and his wife shifted base to Delhi and subsequently started L'Opera. "We realised that while other Asian cities have really good cafes and bakeries, there is a gap in New Delhi," says Samandari. Attempts are made to procure ingredients locally, "but because we don't want to compromise with quality, some things like chocolate or flour are imported." Popular picks include macarons, croissants, eclairs, Mille Feuille and Paris-Brest. The first L'Opera outlet was opened at the French Embassy in 2011. Today they have 12 outlets across Delhi-NCR. "75-80 per cent of our customers are Indians," he says.

Where: 12 outlets including at Khan Market, Epicuria Nehru Place, French Embassy. Call: 0120 4066888

Snack for two: Rs 500 approx

Flavours of the Mid-East

Naser Baraket, a Palestinian from Ramallah, runs Kunafa (meaning traditional Levantine sweet dishes), a small café, in Mehar Chand market. This is where you'll find some of the best Jordanian coffee and Arabic sweets in town. "I say Jordanian but what I mean is it's all Palestinian," says Baraket, who like most Palestinians, possess double citizenship. He runs the cafe with two Indians. The content is all his and so is the sourcing of the raw materials. The ghee used to make his sweets is the gift of Dutch cows, he says. The eight kinds of Baklava (?2100/kg), West Asia's most famous sweet, are delicious. You can also try the Kunafa roll, a sweet log wrapped in vermicelli and stuffed with nuts, Syrian halva and figs.

Where: 70, Mehar Chand Market, Lodi Colony; Call: 49050644

Snack for two: Under Rs 800

Korean Delights

Byung Hoon Kang (33), the manager at Sibang bakery, who has been in Gurgaon since 1997 points out the café's specialities: the rice doughnut with red bean paste stuffing, the buns made of white and red bean pastes. "And this is made of mattar," he smiles pointing to a green pea paste bun. Bright, airy and full of people lingering over their cappuccinos and mozzis (a Korean flour and red bean bread) Sibang also serves slices of delicious choco choux cream cake, fruit yoghurt cream buns and egg toast, a baked egg magically embedded in a slice of bread. "Many Korean and Japanese people live in this area so they come here. But we also get many Indians," says Kang.

Where: Shop No - 108, South Point Mall, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon; Call: 9953275368

Snack for two: Rs 500 approx

Among the unexpected treasures tucked away between the shops selling lehengas and perfumes in Gurgaon's DT Mega Mall is the cosy Sonya Bakery Café. Here's where you can sample Korean delicacies like the sweet amkho or red bean bread, nunetines made of honeyed flour and red bean bingsoo. If you're looking for savouries, the sausage rolls are very good and if it's a breakfast bread you want, opt for the apricot-flavoured Ho-ho. You can wash all that down with familiar milkshakes or quaff plum, citron or ginseng tea instead. Owned by Hyunsek Kim (better known as Sonya), the eponymous café is a good place to get familiar with Korean treats.

Where: Shop No. 51, DLF Mega Mall, Sector 28, Gurgaon. Call: 0124 4003334; Also at B18, Nirvana Courtyard, Nirvana Country, Sector 50, Gurgaon. Call: 0124 4006634

Snack for two: Rs 500 approx

(Saumya Khandelwal and Sanjeev Verma /HT Photos)

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