Not many know that waffles – or the first version of these – were actually communion wafers or bread – the batter was poured into moulds depicting Jesus’s crucifixion. Some other waffle irons (that actually first appeared in 13th-14th centuries) had emblems from the Bible on them.
Waffles became commonplace in France and Belgium in the 15th and 16th centuries. The wheat-based and particularly the sugar-sweetened varieties, while present throughout Europe, were prohibitively expensive for all but the royalty and the crème da la crème and super-rich. Germany became a leader in the development and publication of waffle recipes during the 18th century, introducing coffee waffles, the specific use of Hefeweizen beer yeast, cardamom, nutmeg, and a number of zuickerwaffeln (sugar waffles). Fuelled by competition, French patisseries and chefs worked overtime to come up with innovative recipes using a variety of ingredients. By this time, waffles were popular all over Europe, from where they travelled to the world – beginning with America. Waffle parties, known as ‘wafel frolics’, were documented as early as 1744 in New Jersey, and the Dutch had earlier established waffles in New Amsterdam (New York City).
Waffles were further popularized in the United States during the 1964 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Park. The waffle was introduced by Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium, and was named the Bel-Gem Waffle.
Reinventing Waffles with Wafl
“There was some important stuff hidden in the waffle...” said JK Rowling. And personally, that important stuff is happiness as one digs into the buttery soft crust, and depending on sweet or savoury, whatever is it that your soul craves at that moment, a little spice and everything nice. So when I entered the tiny Wafl eatery at GK 1, I was honestly not expecting much. Because the place is really really tiny! Two people sit in it and it appears full. But what amazed me was the amazing variety on the menu – Hongkong WAFL (a waffle cone with ice cream, dried fruit bits, sprinkles and flavoured syrups), Belgian WAFL, WAFL Corn Dog (whoa! a savoury waffle! and several varieties thereof), WAFL Sandwich, WAFL Pie and the unique J-Tube (a J-shaped hollow tube with a creamy ice cream inside), along with shakes, tea and coffee.
Ritin Gandharva, owner of the Wafl GK1 franchise store says, “The USP of WAFL is, corn based products. Our target audience is the Indian breakfast market as well as the conventional fast food market, and we hope to attract that by serving foodies trendy food at most reasonable prices.” Trendy is definitely the operative word at Wafl. So never-seen-before offerings such as J-Tube, WAFL Pie will definitely find favour with foodies of all age groups.
For the calorie-watchers and the health conscious, Wafl Sandwiches with fresh vegetables and ingredients and flavoursome seasonings are on offer. Wafl is a quick service restaurant (QSR) that has more than 50 outlets globally and the chain opened its flagship outlet at Delhi recently. The brand aims to open 250 stores pan India by 2020.
We tried the Corn Dogs as well – and were pleasantly surprised at how light and yet how filling they were. The original choco chip Belgian Wafl was the sweet and happy ending to the mini meal. And if you are worried about the prices, let me tell you that with a J Tube included, the damages were around Rs 500! Pretty decent for the size of serving and quality of food. I do wish they had a larger space though. But fret not, they are happy to pack the yumminess for you in case you want to grab and go! Do pay the store (located at the exit of GK1 M-Block market a visit).
Text and images by Aarti Kapur Singh