In a freewheeling chat with The Daily Guardian, Gaurav and Tushar Dhingra, founders of Defence Bakery, opened up about the six-decade-long journey of the bakery and how it has become a happening spot for Delhiites.

With Easter Sunday round the corner, our mind drifts to the promise of delicious baked goodies, of its own accord. And when it comes to ascertaining the place to buy these delicious baked goodies, the name of Defence Bakery stands out amongst competitors.

Strawberry Danish.Multi Cereal Bread.Easter Goodies at Defence Bakery.

Upholding a legacy spanning 60 years, this neighbourhood bakery that started out in South Delhi’s Defence Colony has now expanded to three separate outlets across Delhi-NCR and a sub-brand Alma Bakery & Cafe that serves Italian cuisine. Defence Bakery founders Gaurav and Tushar Dhingra join The Daily Guardian for a chat about the brand’s 60th anniversary and special plans for Easter. Excerpts:

Q. Tell us the story of how Defence Bakery started.

A. Defence Bakery started in 1962 as a wholesale bakery. Our grandfather Jagdish Mitra Dhingra was a successful industrial bakery entrepreneur in Multan (today Pakistan). Some of their products were staples of the Indian soldier’s kit before 1947. After the partition, he moved to Delhi and set up a bakery and confectionery shop in Defence Colony.

He began by supplying high-quality bakery and confectionery products to other bakers and retailers. Our founder was a very progressive and courageous businessman, who kept his business updated with new technologies and processes constantly. In the 1970s, his son and our father, Dalip Kumar Dhingra, joined the business and they reinvented the business model into a retail fine quality bakery, confectionery and chocolates. The focus was on products and customer service.

As time progressed, somewhere in the 1980s, Defence Colony market evolved into a happening spot for Delhiites from different walks of life—journalists, artists, actors, lawyers, and college students, among others. This bakery became a one-stop-shop for everyday staples and treats.

Our father, being a professional baker himself, experimented wildly in his kitchen, recreating international tastes with local ingredients. This is how our pizza base and atta bread were introduced.

Later in 2000, both of us joined the business and took it towards the next step. We stayed true to its values while innovating, introducing sustainable practices, developing teams and growing our customer base.

Over the years, Defence Bakery has become the neighbourhood bakery of choice, where one gets an international palate refined by master chefs with local ingredients at value pricing. We believe this humble approach has helped us grow and now we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of our #gloriousjourney.

Q. How has your product line-up evolved over the years?

A. Our product line has kept evolving throughout. There isn’t a week that goes by without research and development on new or existing recipes. We categorise our menu mix further into their natural groups. We have more than 300 products on offer. Some of the products came into the menu naturally, some were not planned and happened incidentally. We believe baking is a combination of art and science in a laboratory —the kitchen.

Our main products include sourdough breads, staple breads, speciality breads, buns and rolls, celebration cakes, cheesecakes, pies and tarts, custom and designer cakes, doughnuts, tiramisus, a variety of curated freshly baked snacks like classic pulled chicken and mayo rolls, chicken patties, paneer patties, centre filled handcrafted chocolates, chocolate bars, gift boxes and cookies.

Q. What is your signature product and why do you think it is popular?

A. With a portfolio of approximately 350 products, this question is like asking a parent— which child of yours is better? Each recipe has been carefully crafted and every product tastes great. However, in the cake section, we can talk about truffle cake which is tried and tested by generations. In the snacks category, we must mention the classic pulled chicken and mayo roll and patties.

Then there is our atta bread, which has stayed consistent since the late eighties. Our father developed its recipe after many trials, and that is also when he became aware of the carcinogenic effects of bromate which is a permissible ingredient as per FSSAI food safety standards of India, but not good for the health of humans. We consciously don’t use this ingredient in our products.

Q. What are you offering for Easter celebrations?

A. We have a number of Easter specials planned. These include Marzipan Easter Eggs, Chocolate Easter Eggs, Easter Bunny’s, Hot Cross Buns, Easter Iced Cookies, Fudgy Carrot Cookies, Chocolate Nests, Egg Popper Jars, Egg Popper Pouches, Easter Goodie Packs, Chocolate Hens, Iced Carrot Cakes, Apple Upside Down Cakes, and Babka Breads.

Q. What do you have planned for your 60th-year celebrations?

A. We have designed a dedicated logo to mark the occasion. There are several activities planned for the internal team as well as for our customers, such as contests, giveaways, and special menus for festivals highlighting heritage recipes. On 2 August, which is our Founders Day, we are planning a surprise grand activity. Mostly, we want to express our gratitude to everyone for being with us and supporting us all the way. It’s time for us to go forward with the knowledge, expertise and strength that we have gathered through decades past.

Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

‘We have over 300 products on offer. Some of the products came into the menu naturally, some were not planned and happened incidentally. We believe baking is a combination of art and science in a laboratory —the kitchen.’