Le Delice: France on your Palate

  • Faheem un nisa
  • Publish Date: Jan 19 2016 1:20PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Feb 17 2016 6:00PM
Le Delice: France on your Palate

The first of its kind French bakery in Srinagar run by a Kashmiri French couple

Le Delice, valley’s first authentic and dedicated French bakery, feels like a slice of France in the heart of Kashmir. Located near jetty number nine on the banks of Dal Lake, it evokes the ambience and aromas of a typical French bakery. A delectable variety of French delicacies sit inside glass bell jars, temptingly peeping out from display shelves.

There are madeleines (small, rich sponge cakes), butter/almond croissants, pain au chocolat (chocolate bread), canele ‘(small French pastry with a soft custard center), baguettes (long, narrow French loaf),congolais (coconut biscuits), cookies, and other mouth-watering delicacies baked to the perfection inherent to French cuisine. “Food is so much more than just a meal. People travel through food,” says 33-year-old Saqib Mir who opened this bakery about four months ago.

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Mir, who has a diploma in French bakery (Le certificatd’aptitudeprofessionnelle), lived in France for nearly 14 years before moving back to Kashmir along with his kid and wife.  Seeing the dots connecting Kashmiri and French food, he decided to bring his baking skills to his hometown and add to the gastronomical delights of Kashmiris. His French wife, Melanie Mir, who had been visiting Kashmir every year since 2003, had noticed the absence of good eateries in the state. She supported his decision to move back to the valley and open a French bakery.

But the journey from the conception of the idea to its execution turned out to be a bumpy ride for Saqib.From obtaining good quality ingredients at reasonable prices to finding the required tools and equipment; from getting the official paper work/registrations done to hiring the right people, the prospect of starting the French bakery proved daunting for him. “There were so many roadblocks that at one point it seemed quite impossible. While some of the struggles were expected, others just sprang out of the blue,” says Saqib, adding that the project got delayed by a year because of the floods of 2014.

But Saqib continued to work diligently and overcame all odds to finally realize his dream. He says it wouldn’t have been possible without his wife who has been a constant source of support and motivation for him even when things didn’t look very hopeful. Melanie works as a production coordinator in France and does not have much expertise when it comes to cooking. “I felt helpless when I couldn’t lend Saqib a hand in baking but I made sure he never lost sight of his dream and didn’t give up,” she says. “I might not be an expert at cooking but I love tasting different things and can be quite a tough critic,” she adds with a chuckle.

 

Right now Saqib is focused on hiring the right people and building a strong team. He is currently training and refining the baking skills of the staff he has hired.  “I knew it would be hard for me to find professionals in Kashmir since I had no channel here, but that didn’t bother me since all Kashmiris are sharp-minded and talented,” he says. “It was just a matter of finding people who have the right attitude towards learning and the zeal to grow.”

The couple plans to expand their bakery into a tea saloon – a nice, cozy place where people can relax and relish quality French food over a cup of their favorite beverage. “I was very apprehensive about how things would pan out but the response has been overwhelming,” says Saqib.  “Besides, I get a lot of customers who actually know about French bakery items. It is very reassuring.”

Malanie is hoping that Le Delice inspires other people to open new and different food outlets and bakeries in Kashmir.

The next time you pass through Boulevard, pay Le Delice a visit and pamper your palate by taking your taste buds on a trip to France!