On this World Bakery Day, in the spirit of supporting local businesses, we take a look at some of the country’s most iconic bakeries: from Kolkata to Chennai and Mangalore to Srinagar. Some have been around for over a century while others have won over us with their delicious treats in a much shorter time.
1. Nahoum & Sons, Calcutta
The one thing Bengalis love more than their sweet treats is nostalgia. And this place in Kolkata’s New Market (Hogg Market) has both in spades. Created by Nahum Israel Mordecai, patriarch of a Jewish family from Baghdadi in 1902, it is a favorite of the Kolkatans who come here as much for the fruit cakes and macaroons as for the very period decor. Tucked away in a maze of shops inside an early 20th-century covered market, Nahoum & Sons strikes a vintage tone from the signage of the storefront to the soft glow of tube-style lights hanging above. The exterior walls of the store are lined with display cases where the bakery’s delicious treats are kept to attract passing shoppers. (F47, Hogg Market, New Market Area, Kolkata, Tel: 033-65269936)
2. Flury’s, Kolkata
The moment you walk through the Art Deco doors of this Park Street institution and smell the air fragrant with the smell of sugar and fresh baking, you know you are going to be in for a treat. To the right is the bakery which is always slammed with people shouting orders for rum balls, chocolate boats, cakes, quiches and puff pastry. You can grab your food or grab a table across the bakery and order yourself full English, huevos rancheros, or the signature club sandwich from the sit-down menu. The list of specialties on offer doesn’t appear to have been updated in years, but the legions of devotees lining up outside to enter don’t seem to care. While there are now a number of Flury’s in town, novices must pay homage to the original Park Street. (18, Park Street Area, Kolkata, Tel: 033-40007452)
3. Jila Bakery, Goa
Located in a charming but indescribable villa not far from Majorda Beach is this hidden gem. Arrive early in the morning because by early afternoon all the shelves are cleared of the bakery’s legendary chocolate éclairs, plum and banana cakes, cashew cookies, and forminhas. The small place even has a small veranda where you can sit and enjoy these treats, but most Goans get their hiding place from here. (Near Corporation Bank, Loutolim, Camorlim, Goa, Tel: 08322 777224)
4. Kookie Jar, Kolkata
If you’re at a birthday party in town, chances are the cake is coming from here. But it’s not just the Black Forest and pineapple upside down birthday cakes that this place is known for. Whether you accompany pies, both lemon and chocolate variety, chocolate covered cookies, mocha cookies, chocolate pyramids or caramel cake, you will leave here full and smiling. You can also choose from many savory delicacies. There are pizzas and paninis on offer, but the chicken wrap – puff pastry oozing with delicious topping – is the standout item on the savory menu. (42A, Rawdon Street, Loudon Street Area, Kolkata, Tel: 033-22816589)
5. Kayani Bakery, Pune
Those of you who have friends from Pune or who have been to town have definitely tried the typical shrew cookies here. The cookies come in a variety of flavors here, from peanut butter to ginger, coconut, cardamom and many more. You would also do well to try the deliciously soft and chewy mawa cake here. Since opening its doors to customers in 1955, it’s a favorite with locals who come here not just when they’re in the mood to indulge themselves. The bakery is also known for its breads, rolls, rolls and sponge cake. The decor is functional and nicely dated. You choose what you want from a menu on the wall scribbled on a chalk board, place your order at the original wooden counter, and someone quickly wraps it up for you. (6, Opp. Victory Theater, East Street, Camp, Pune, Tel: 020-6360517)
6. City Bakery, Mumbai
This classic-looking yellow and blue storefront signage and the large old-fashioned fireplace that comes out of the bakery kitchen almost invites you to step inside and experience the world of goodies on offer here. Plain croissants and also stuffed with all kinds of decadent fillings, a wide repertoire of pastries and cakes of the mawa variety and otherwise, pizzas and sandwiches made from freshly baked breads, it has everything you need and a few things that you want. Whatever you get here, you have to get an order of brownies to go with it. Located in the Worli district of Mumbai, it is a cult favorite almost since it opened in 1953.
7. American Express Bakery, Bombay
Over a century since it opened, it has made Mumbaikars addicted to its ginger and rusk cookies, and is still a hit with regulars. Taking its name from when it offered express bakery delivery service to U.S. cruise ships docking at the port, the nickname stuck. Since 1902 it has been run by generations of the Carvalho family and currently operates in a wrought iron Byculla building that bears its name. Customers are greeted by a cheerful sign with a bespectacled baker wearing the slogan “we knead your needs”. There is another place on Bandra’s Hill Road. Together they serve the freshest breads and rolls, Hungarian coffee cakes, mutton patties and a wide selection of sandwiches. (AEB House, 66A, Mirza Galib Marg, Byculla, Mumbai, tel: 022-23084441 and Villa Sushma, Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai, tel: 022-26422857)