As the festivities of Christmas and New Year begin, Amita Ghose takes a stroll down the memory lane and look at the oldest and most popular bakeries across India
Boots, fancy coats, stockings, decorated streets, carnivals, picnics, holidays, Christmas, Santa Claus and of course cakes! What is a Christmas holiday without a finely baked soft tasty piece of plum cake? With the tinge of winter in the air, the cravings for the buttery smell, vanilla essence, dry fruits, choco chip surprise and a lot more. Though a cake was never an Indian thing, the advent of the foreign dessert happened with the British’s entry into the country. And in no time, it became so dear and an attraction point of our gastronomic desires. Here’s low down on the oldest bakeries across India that you must read about!
Yazdani Bakery, Mumbai
This bakery was established by Zend Meherwan Zend back in 1951. Right after World War II, the bakery replaced a Japanese bank and since then it has become a legacy. The moment you enter this bakery you would be taken to a different world altogether. With a bulk of old world charm, a cup of classic tea and bun maska would give that rare feeling of being in heaven.
It is Parvez Irani with whom the bakery’s ownership lies currently. Parvez from the Irani family takes care of each and every single need of the bakery he even sits at the cash counter. It still has wooden ovens from the English era that bake 1,000 laadi pavs every day. The rum cake and ginger biscuits produced during Christmas is the specialty. As every other heritage shop, Yazdani has no fancy decors and stands for its taste, quality and simplicity.
In the middle of those white huge pillars of Connaught Place, Wenger’s stands with great pride. The bustling footpaths of CP and the very old, heritage bakery lives with the stark contrast and how! From Khushwant Singh to Ruskin Bond, this iconic eatery has witnessed a number of noted personalities visiting the shop.
The shop was founded by a Swiss couple Mr and Mrs Wenger and later was acquired by the Tandon family in Delhi. Brij Mohan Tandon, the current proprietor of the shop, claims the Wenger couple treated them as a family. Once the Tandons got the occupancy sorted, the popularity of the shop increased by several folds. Wenger’s mixed fruit cake is the Christmas specialty. They also bake rum cakes, butter cakes etc. During Christmas, the shop’s overall sale every day shoots up to 3000 kg of cakes.
Nahoum & Sons, Kolkata
Evolution, change, innovation – these words seem unreal as you step into this 115 year old shop made of teakwood doors and furniture and glass boxes where the food items are put on display. Nahoum is so old school that it takes you to a trip to the early 20th century. This cake shop initially functioned like a door-to-delivery and take away joint. Established by famous Jewish confectioner, David Nahoum, the shop was even the official dessert supplier for the British government personnel.
After the death of David in 2013, Kolkatans worried if the shop would shut but thanks to the members of the Nahoum family, that they have been running the place with equal glory. Jessica Baptist, a family friend of Nahoum’s is now in charge of the shop along with honest and loyal staff. People don’t mind to wait in the queue for hours as there will be only five of the men serving thousands of customers every day during the festivities. For Christmas their specialty served is plum cake, butter cake, rich fruit cake and brownies.
Albert Bakery, Bengaluru
Located in Frazer town adjacent to a mosque, established in 1902, this almost 114 years old Albert Bakery is considered to be one of the most authentic and oldest bakeries in Bengaluru. A very small shop which might be missed in a rush or hurried tour, this bakery has essentially all the elements to have a place in the heritage look book. Albert Bakery is commonly known for its evening snacks available every day after 3 pm.
The bakery is currently managed by Nawab Jan and Sabir Faizan. Apart from croissants, pastries, cakes, and freshly baked bread, their Mutton Kheema Samosas, Kova Naan and Salt Butter Biscuits are the most sold. During Christmas, the bakery offers a rich plum cake which is a major take away from this bakery.
Smith Field Bakery, Chennai
Amid the crowded Perambur Barracks Road when your lungs feel choked with pollution, one single fragrance can save you for the time. That is none other than the soft sweet smell of breads being baked at the Smith Field Bakery. While naming the oldest bakeries in India, one has to name this one in the first row as the significance and existence of this shop is unavoidably prominent and makes a mark in the history.
Established in 1885, this bakery proudly announces that they do not use a single chemical or preservative to make some good profit out of buns and cakes. The founder, Ponnuswamy N, of Sadaraspattinam started Smith Field Bakery with little money in hand and now the shop has spread the goodwill across the southern region of the country. The sweet buns, bread, ‘T’ cakes baked in natural wood fire are the regular favourites among the clients of the bakery. For the Christmas, they specially bake Walnut cakes, Rich fruit essence cakes, Plum cakes and Seed cakes. Advance bulk orders are also accepted at the bakery.
Karachi Bakery, Hyderabad
The owners of Karachi Bakery are a Sindhi Hindu family. The family had migrated during the partition and found refuge in Hyderabad. Khanchand Ramnani – the family, who were merchants by profession, established Karachi bakery near Mozamjahi Market in 1952. In no time this bakery became an international brand and they even sell cakes and biscuits online. The Karachi Bakery has also recently opened an outlet in Dubai. For the Christmas, we highly recommend you their rich plum cake that you leave you in a sinking feeling in the richness of taste.