There are as many versions as there are places in Delhi that sell this delectable dessert, but you can classify them into a few broad varieties. The first is the chilled versus baked variety. You have to use gelatine to set a chilled cheesecake and usually need to use eggs in the baked version, but that’s not the most important ingredient: cheese is! The good news is that you can more or less define cheese the way you want to. So while Philadelphia Cream Cheese is one definition, others include German quark, Italian mascarpone and Indian hung curd. As Varun Tuli of The Yum Yum Tree says, “The important thing is not what you use. It is how you use it. You have to know the result you are aiming at and you have to know how to achieve it.
There are two more factors about cheesecakes. One is the flavouring used. Of course it is perfectly possible to use nothing but Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It is a well-known product and recognizable in its own right and connoisseurs would say that you would drown out the signature flavour of Philly with a flavouring agent. Fawzia Grover of The Big Chill says that most possible flavours are overwhelming fruity and these too are divided by type. Citrus flavours include lemon and orange and variations thereof (orange marmalade for example), berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and soft fruit like peaches and the humble banana.
Foodaholics’ Cheesecake is one of the best, smoothest, creamiest you can get in Delhi. The most popular flavour is Valrhona chocolate and the Philadelphia cream cheese is given an overlay of chocolate mousse just for an added dimension in flavour: the cream cheese is slightly tart and the mousse is luscious and sweet. Chocolate for cheesecake is the most unusual flavour to find in Delhi. It costs Rs 1,500 per kg. (Contact Foodaholics: www.foodaholics.in and 9873164293 for free delivery all over Delhi.
The Big Chill has four branches, all of them packed to the gills morning, noon and night. It is a trattoria, but their cakes and ice-creams do top billing. Fawzia Grover is a baker par excellence and though she herself used to do the baking in the initial cosy café, it has outgrown itself many times over and now there’s a large staff in place, but Fawzia still manages the show. They have three of four types of cheesecake at any given time. The one that sells the fastest is the New York cheesecake. Almost identical to the Foodaholics’ version, this one too is creamy and smooth. The indefinable flavour of Philadelphia cream cheese comes through and as a topping, chopped seasonal fruit is spooned on top, just before serving. Thus, one month it can be mangoes and the other month strawberries. The Big Chill’s other flavours include cheesecake with a topping of packaged blueberry, and Chocolate Fudge and Oreo Cookie Cheesecake. Fun no doubt, but there’s nothing quite like the brilliance of the original. 35 and 68A Khan Market, 41757533 & 41757588; HS 5, Kailash Colony Market, 46556828; DLF Place, Saket 41170000.
Blanco in Khan Market does an excellent version. This is a restaurant with a difference. Owned by Dayal Opticals, the Western and Oriental restaurant, all-white as its name suggests, has showcases for the very top end of designer dark glasses from the likes of Dior and Chanel. You can admire them while you eat. Their best-selling dessert is a wonderful cheesecake. This too is a baked cheesecake and it has a tiny bit of lemon rind in it so that not only is the colour an attractive lemon, the consistency is ever so slightly runny. Blanco’s cheesecake is soft, probably with – hold your breath – milk powder, but the chefs at Blanco aren’t telling, and who said we can’t hypothesize. 62 khan market 43597155
The prize for the most popular cheesecake must go to The Yum Yum Tree. This Chinese room, sushi bar and oriental grill does several desserts of which cheesecake is just one, but it is the one that has catapulted The Yum Yum Tree into fame. Some people order a full cheesecake while making table reservations a week ahead, which goes to show how many aficionados it has. Varun Tuli, the young owner, was married a few months ago and took his bride to the States on what she hoped would be a romantic getaway with some shopping thrown in. Varun had other ideas. He dragged her to every kitchen equipment showroom, every critically rated restaurant and every food exhibition in the cities they visited. While Varun had the time of his life wringing out recipes from USA’s famous chefs, Prathna despaired of getting to the GAP store in time for the sales. She is now threatening to go on a second honeymoon. Alone, with two suitcases for company.
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