An Invasion of the Foodies of Delhi
Born and bred in South Delhi, it wasn’t too difficult to figure the area’s unquenchable need for a designers’ market. Of course, the designer could be working on anything – food, bakery items, couture, interior décor, and even art and recyclables (Green the Gap in Hauz Khas). More than a decade ago, the popular Khan market graced this pedestal. Books were still in fashion and children were still solving their own algebra (no PhotoMath). But people watching Haider will always be outnumbered by those watching Kick (pun intended!). And then came the invasion of the food joints. Within no time the intellects and artists had to pack their bags up – literally.
The vagabond lot searched, and ended up in Hauz Khas – a much cheaper location and out of the way, and yet one that sat cosy within the radius of the elite South Delhi circle. With a large reservoir and beautiful ruins, surely this must be the place. The villagers found hungry takers for their lofts and rooms, for who rues an overnight rags-to-riches story? Word spread. Before long the discerning consumer found its new haunt. With its artsy nooks and boutique shops, welcoming bookstores and energetic pubs, Hauz Khas seduced the young at heart. But wait, it wasn’t time to jump to conclusions yet. How long can a potential location stay hidden from those pocket heavy food entrepreneurs? Hauz Khas soon drew enterprising HNIs who got yet another promising shot at becoming restaurateurs.
Close by, another village too had begun dappling in urban glam – Shahpur Jat had already started attracting the designers and intellectuals. Though way more congested and boasting of much narrower streets, this place had been uncovered for good. But one pizza delivery outlet was all it took for others to follow suit. Foodies discovered a side lane from close by Siri Fort which made the area conveniently accessible. Elitist breakfast cafes, grungy pubs, and multi-cuisine restaurants rushed to rent out the available spaces from the villagers, who couldn’t be happier with such nifty bargains. When it’s about food, what could ever hinder a Delhiwalla? Still, Shahpur Jat remains a peaceful place for the most part during the day. Of course, all hell breaks loose once the light bows out.
Attending the International Jazz Festival every year is a treat for the soul. After spending a great Festival evening earlier this year, as we wandered the streets close by, my trusted Zomato app decided to point us to a café at hand – Cafe 88. As it turned out, we were welcomed into a restaurant with an exquisite European décor inside with its spotless white walls and ornate chandeliers, enough to capture our eyeballs effortlessly. Once we managed to peel our eyes off the walls and the interiors long enough to narrow down on our choice for the night, we weren’t disappointed. This was the Meherchand Market, another exciting new hub. As we glided up and down the street, I realized this was once a market known for tailors and probably one of the cheapest areas of Central Delhi. Now it was has turned on its head into the new fashion street. Upcoming designers and innovative bakeries lined its sides. The market has now come to host many boutique couture shops. The India Habitat Center with the famous Stein Auditorium known for hosting international theater and film festivals provides the perfect backdrop.
This was at night, and the streets seemed empty. May be this was it – I had found peace as we drove on quietly. But such moments don’t last, do they? An open jeep with blaring music passed us wildly on the wrong side of the road, obviously heading to a close by get together. Foodies had already begun finding their feet in the area. Guppy by ai, Chez Nini and Tres are some of the happening joints easily noticeable. Nappa Dori’s another outlet boasting of vintage quality leather products.
So, is this market, bang in the middle of the rambling government flats from an era gone by, poised to be invaded by the food giants – yet again?
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