There are macarons and then there are Ladurée macarons. Established in 1862, the legacy bakery and sweets maker from Paris—and inventor of the double-decker macaron—makes its India debut today with a flagship Parisian-style Salon de Thé in Delhi’s Khan Market
The shopfront, painted in Ladurée’s signature celadon green, stands out among its slightly crusty neighbours. The soothing green theme continues indoors but with measured doses of other hues, like the pink neon sign that screams ‘Macaron’. Upstairs is a chic Parisian-style Salon de Thé or tea room which could easily have been off the Champs-Élysées. The interiors are by Paris-based Studio Ravn.
With a soft opening over the weekend—retail section only—Ladurée’s first India outpost opens fully to the public today, including the seating area upstairs. It’s really a piece of history that has been transported to India which the word ‘franchise’ doesn’t quite begin to capture. Credit for bringing the Ladurée brand to India goes to the CK Israni real estate group. The project is being helmed by Chandni Nath Israni, co-founder and head of the Group’s retail division.
The signature offerings at Ladurée’s Delhi outlet are, of course, their world-famous macarons. Currently, 13 flavours are on offer, including rose, lemon, pistachio, orange blossom, salted caramel, coffee and chocolate lavender. Then there are dainty French pastries, croissants, turnovers, teacakes and cookies. Candles, keyrings and gift hampers are also available to buy.
Chef Godfroy Leinekugel is in charge of the Delhi kitchen and has previously handled Ladurée outlets in Russia and Kazakhstan. The tea room menu offers classic Ladurée desserts like the Ispahan and Saint Honoré as well as club sandwiches, eggs benedict and French omelettes. Delhi has a notoriously picky palate, and news of it seems to have reached the banks of the Seine too. In what must be a conciliatory nod to its location, a chicken tikka sandwich also features on the menu. This could possibly be the only Ladurée in the world serving it.
Macarons have come a long way since their 8th-century Venetian monastery origins when they were allegedly referred to as ‘priests’ bellybuttons’ owing to their shape. Italian in origin, they were introduced to France in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici—or rather her Italian chefs—when she married Henry II of France.
Although the Ladurée shop was founded in 1862, it was only at the beginning of the 20th century that Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling. Crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, Ladurée’s macarons are made every morning in their ‘laboratories’. Precise amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar are used to make the macarons with their proprietary technique. Every season, the legendary macaron maker creates a new flavour, with the existing range of flavours and colours serving as the starting point.
In 1993, Ladurée was taken over by the Groupe Holder—also owners of the Paul bakery chain—and they embarked on an ambitious expansion plan. Over the next few years, from the single, original shop on the rue Royale, Ladurée became a chain with pastry shops and tea rooms across Paris. In 2005, Ladurée went international with an outlet in Harrods, London. Now there are Ladurée stores all over the world. In India too there are plans to expand to other metros eventually.
Macarons are notoriously difficult to make but Ladurée has perfected the art. Also, macarons must be consumed soon, otherwise they dry up and harden. The macarons at the Delhi store are being flown in directly from Paris, with supplies coming weekly, to ensure consistency and quality.
With Ladurée, a piece of French culinary history has been transported to India, and, for now, a part of Khan Market will forever be Paris.
Address: Ladurée, Shop 17, Khan Market, Delhi 110003
Phone: +91- 8988888811