It was an awesome Saturday, this weekend. I won the Twitter Contest to attend The Dessert Cart (By Shradha Agarwalla) Valentine baking workshop, which was amazing! Plus, I helped the Food Blogger’s Association of India with a coverage of the Le15 Patisserie Masterclass by Pooja Dhingra and an interview of the “macaron queen.” While I couldn’t really take any pictures at the dessert workshop, I had Ishaaq shoot some moments of the masterclass for the coverage.
Here’s my article and interview and a few shots by Ishaaq:
Meeting Chef Pooja Dhingra
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is an annual event that was instituted in Mumbai 15 years ago and is still running strong. The recently completed festival this year boasted a larger crowd and several new and innovative aspects to keep Mumbaikars engaged and arriving in hordes.
One such event was the Appetite For Change, where a number of celebrated chefs from across the city’s restaurants showcased their famous recipes and enthralled the crowd with their delicacies. Pooja Dhingra, Chef and Owner of one of Mumbai’s favourite patisseries, Le 15 Patisserie, too gave a short masterclass on how to make cupcakes and truffles. On her menu were cardamom cupcakes with a buttercream frosting and saffron and chocolate truffles.
The small cafe at Westside in Kalaghoda was packed as soon as the event started. Dhingra, demonstrated to a whopping 145 people, how to make the cupcake batter and the buttercream and held an interactive class on how to pipe out buttercream. Several participants from the audience went up to her table to learn the art of piping. Apart from that, she showed the audience how to make truffles and at the end, distributed a load of these delicacies to her fans!
Tell us about Le15 Patisserie. When did it start? Le15 Patisserie was started three years ago. We currently have branches in Raghuvanshi Mills and The Palladium, Lower Parel.
What goodies can one avail at the store? Apart from macarons, which are our specialty, we offer customers cupcakes (which are as popular as the macarons), tea cakes and tarts. We also hold classes/workshops on baking.
Till you came in, Indians weren’t really aware of macarons. What made you decide to make a business out of them?I didn’t know about macarons myself when I was in Paris. My extent of pastry was still just brownies and cheesecakes. But, when I tasted a macaron for the very first time, it was so delicious. I wondered why no one had told me about this earlier and why it wasn’t available in India. I came back and tried out the recipe, but realised that it wouldn’t work, given our tropical weather conditions. It took me six months to modify and adapt the recipe to what we use today.
What are the popular flavours? My personal favourite is the passion fruit macaron. We are also going to introduce a green tea and chocolate tart. Apart from that, we have macarons in wasabi and vanilla, lavender, rose and pistachio. Other more innovative flavours are paan and chai.
How has the public responded to your concept and offerings?In terms of demand, I think Indians have reached a point where our palate wants different things to experiment with. Moreover, exposure to shows like Masterchef Australia makes us want to create and try out new things. The time is pretty apt for innovative food.
What plans for the future? Currently, we are looking to branch out, and at the same time, have plans for a cook book in the pipeline. Apart from that, I will be present at the upcoming Taste of Mumbai Festival, where I’ll have a masterclass on how to make macarons.