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Move over mithais, Delhi loves macarons

French patisseries in the Capital infuse a sense of whimsy with macarons, puff pastries and choux buns

Macarons from Ladurée.
Macarons from Ladurée.

Picture this: It’s a friend’s birthday in Delhi and you are sitting thousands of miles away. The occasion calls for something delightful but not run-of-the-mill. A box of assorted French treats—macarons, those delicate French meringue-based confections, puff pastries, croissants—will seal the deal.

“You are the third caller from Mumbai today,” said the person who took my order for a box of choux buns at the Monique patisserie in Delhi. The French patisserie scene in the Capital is, in fact, so buzzy that even folks from other cities have tuned in. In April, at the height of the second covid-19 wave, the Monique patisserie, on Chhatarpur Road in Delhi, began deliveries. Its founder, Shivan Gupta of Amaara Farms, roped in Maxime Montay, a French pastry chef. “Max is a chef by passion and his family has always been into traditional patisserie,” says Gupta.

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Now Ladurée, the luxury French bakery known for its macarons—think of them as the Tiffany’s of macarons—is set to open its first outlet in the Capital. Chandni Nath Israni, managing director of the CK Israni Group that is bringing Ladurée to Delhi, says their chefs have been trained in Paris.

It all started about a decade ago, when L’Opéra opened and introduced a range of macarons that upended the popularity of cupcakes. Bani Nanda, who completed a pastry course from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and founded Delhi’s Miam Pâtisserie in 2015, says fondant cakes had reached a saturation point—people were looking for something new. “When my sister got married three years ago, my parents wanted to give macarons instead of mithai,” recalls the chef.

A recent market research report by the chocolate brand Smoor says the macaron market in India has undergone a huge shift over five years: Valued at 41.29 crore in 2020, it’s projected to hit the 100 crore category by 2026.

As macarons took off, so did entremet cakes—layered desserts with varied textures and flavours, encased in a thin mousse coating. A chocolate entremet, for example, could have a moist chocolate cake as the base, topped with hazelnut ganache, layered with Tahitian vanilla cream and coated with Venezuelan chocolate mousse.

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Using high-quality ingredients—with a focus on provenance—is essential to appeal to an aware millennial with an experimental palate. Not surprisingly, Monique’s flaky, puff-style French sweet treats, such as the decadent Le Paris Brest with almond and hazelnut praline, have won it quite a fan following.

Their newest offering is Charlotte, a delicate cake. “In Delhi right now we are blessed with a bounty of fruits. Europe might be producing strawberries in this season but we want to carry forward an Indian seasonal story. Hence, in our new creation, Charlotte, pears have been paired with almond, vanilla and chocolate. Innovation is key,” says Gupta. More signature items are in the offing. “People have appreciated the quality of ingredients. Some have even asked if we import the flour. We want to continue this focus on local produce par excellence.”

Nanda too is experimenting with fresh fruits for puff pastries. “You know, one might be quick to assume that French puff pastries are a new find for Delhiites but they were introduced by the British Raj. Gymkhana menus and age-old bakeries have both sweet and savoury puffs, and these are familiar to us,” she explains. What’s new is the hands that make the puff, turning it into a wonderful delicate treat that encapsulates a sense of whimsy.

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With inputs from Avantika Bhuyan.

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