POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME
Words: ALISHA WADIA
Photographs: VAIBHAV MEHTA
GREAT FROM Mumbai, Jaipur, Chandigarh
GREAT FOR Sugar and spice and all things nice
What is it about the rain that makes you want to bury your face in a pile of chocolate cake? Dreary days quivering with thundering skies and a sense of impending doom turn warm and fuzzy at the mere thought of a cup of steaming hot chocolate. Rainy days were made purely to stare at the downpour through glass windows, with desserts, piping-hot beverages and a book within reach. New Delhi, you won’t be surprised to hear, has cafés and bakeries where you can devour every bit of sugar you can lay your sticky fingers on.
Start your quest at the capital’s go-to dessert haven, The Big Chill Café. This American diner-style space is an oldie but a goodie. Noisy and plastered in vintage movie posters, it does a mean Double Chocolate Decadence – a gooey base of bittersweet chocolate fudge that melts into a velvety mousse, sitting under a layer of cocoa powder. Don’t miss the Banoffee Pie either – chunks of banana poking out of silky caramel drowning in whipped cream, or the creamy, right-amount-of tangy Blueberry Cheesecake, all threatening to throw you into a food coma.
For a bit of peace and quiet, head to Elma’s Brasserie, in the city’s up-and-coming Meherchand Market, a cutesy tearoom with large white windows, pastel green doors and floral printed chairs. Order the scones here; the fluffy little monsters come stuffed with black raisins and are served with fresh cream and mixed berry jam. There’s little in the world more soothing than a hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon. Elma’s hot chocolate is dark and rich, with marshmallows, and will have you purring like a kitten. The cakes arrive fresh from its Hauz Khas bakery late morning; the Red Velvet is worth sticking around for, and not just because it’s as big as a small door.
It’s impossible to go through the rains without that Indian sweet staple, the jalebi. For a bizarre twist, try Café Lota’s apple jalebis – slivers of the fruit fried golden crisp and served with coconut rabri. They’re strangely moreish, and go well with a cup of Attikan coffee, a Chikmagalur roast. At spitting distance from India Gate, in the National Crafts Museum, it’s very atmospheric in here, with raindrops thrumming down on the latticed bamboo-and-glass ceiling.
Be prepared to lose another chunk of your day to the warm and wee confines of The Artful Baker. Skip the mille-feuille, and dive instead into the Monte Cristo, a concoction of Belgian chocolate and hazelnut chocolate on a bed of almond sponge. Also try the flaky, buttery croissant – you won’t waste a bit, not even the crumbs that fall onto your lap. Besides, it’s cheaper than going to France.
It’s also cheaper to go to Gurgaon than Belgium for waffles. At Di Ghent Café, linger over the coffee and the Vitrine Waffles, coated with wild berry compote, almond shavings and served with mascarpone and vanilla ice cream, gleaming with diabetes.
If you haven’t fully ballooned up, squeeze into hip Shahpur Jat’s Sugarama Patisserie for little blobs of sugary goodness. The Salted Caramel, Belgian Chocolate and Peanut Butter macarons are delicious. If you’re having trouble scarfing down all that sugar, get it together, eat some chaat, and start over.