There was a time when the market only comprised chemist shops, a snazzy crystal showroom and a lot of high-end grocery shops. But that was in the 90s. More than a decade later, the market is a glitzy version of its earlier avatar. In our growing up years, the market had two Chinese eateries, a well-known kebab joint run by an ex-Army man, the best known South Indian restaurant in Delhi, an inexpensive fast food joint and a fine dining place. Today, the lanes are burgeoning with restaurants with every cuisine under the sun. In fact, Def Col, as the market is popularly referred to, is synonymous with chic eateries, bakeries that remind you of Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread home, and a couple of watering holes. Sidewalks are taken up by mehendi artists and people waiting to find a table at eateries, Mercs and BMWs jostle for parking space with smaller cars. It is a melee all right, but no one is complaining! Not the teeny-boppers, aunties in YSL glasses hosting kitty parties and cool corporate types with golf bags, downing beer over wasabi peanuts and lavash.
On an Eat-a-Thon
The drool factor of the market is food. It is not uncommon to find people from different parts of the city booking their tables in advance and driving down to Def Col all the way from places like Pitampura and Ghaziabad to sample the original Sagar’s stood-the-test-of-time South Indian food. For youngsters, there is always the dependable Kent’s (the chilli chicken pizza and seekh kebab burger are wow!), Brown Sugar (hookahs and wheat momos), 4S (affordable Chinese food and beer), Kebabchi (yummy kebabs) and the recently-opened Cafe Royce that ensures that youngsters have a good time without burning up too much money. For those with discerning tastes, there’s Soi 46 (Thai and Chinese), Chilli Seasonss (Thai and Vietnamese) and Ca Va (European). And of course, the three bakeries (Angel’s in my Kitchen, Defence Bakery and TajSats) add a dash of sweetness to the spice of this market with mushroom quiches, stroopwaffles, oatmeal biscuits, tiramisu, sun-dried tomato bread, amongst other sweet pies and delicious savouries.
Shop and Move
With the increasing numbers of expats moving into Defence Colony in the last years, don’t be surprised if you find beautiful French kids breaking into an impromptu happy birthday number at one of the bakeries or immaculate Brit men browsing the net on their laptop at any of the cafes in the market. Shopkeepers too have started catering to the needs of their foreign clients. While Taste is known for its cold meats and charcuterie, shops like Mahalakshmi and Malik are popular for cheese, wines, dressings, sauces and an ocean of imported goodies. You name a packaged ingredient in the world, and in all possibility, these shops will be able to bill you for it. Then there are exotic vegetables and fruits that you will perhaps not find at any market in the Capital. At the other end of the spectrum are niche outlets. Take for instance, 1469 which promotes Punjabiyat through quirky tees with one-liners in Gurmukhi, silver jewellery, phulkari duppattas and pottery or the branded showrooms for teenagers... Def Col market is a onestop destination for all your needs. So if you’re no mood to cook, feeling low or just bogged down with work pressure, head to the market. We guarantee, you won’t get bored!
• Try the meetha paan at one of the paan stands near Nirula’s ice cream
• The bhelpuriwalla’s cycle stand near Kent’s is a mustvisit. But do specify how you want your bhelpuri to be!
• Love low-cal? Don’t forget to visit the shop below Malik’s that is a haven for baked namkeen, wheat pastas, fat-free dressings, pickles and a lot more.