Being a Bengali, I have a sweet tooth, as I am sure do most Indians.
India has a rich tradition of dessert making. The dessert scene in India has become even more exciting in the recent years with international standard European desserts coming into the big cities of India to shoulder arms with traditional Indian mithai (sweets).
Interestingly this renaissance, unlike the pasta one, has not been led by expat French and Italian chefs in five star hotels.
Instead, there are some very talented, hard working and brave women leading the new age confectionery wave in India.
At the forefront of this is Kainaz Messman who had earlier worked with the renowned Oberoi Hotel Group. She then decided to follow her dream of setting up a charming neighbourhood café and set up the first Theobroma in Mumbai’s Colaba in 2004. People just couldn’t get enough of the range of brilliant brownies there. Kainaz stuck to using actual chocolate, versus the chocolate powder which is in vogue in India, despite the higher costs involved and storage problems given the heat.
Theobroma has grown and grown since then and has opened multiple outlets in Mumbai. Five more are scheduled this year. The range of products has increased and they even offers breakfast, salads and soups though confectionery lies at the heart of Theobroma. Theobroma also retails excellent breads through local super markets and in their own stores.
Le Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef Pooja Dhingra made it to the Forbes Indian under 30 list a couple of years back. She is known as Mumbai’s ‘Macaron Lady’ and is credited with making French macarons popular in Mumbai through her Le 15 Patisserie chain. She had started with one shop in shop stand but now has opened independent outlets in Palladium Mall, Bandra and Oshiwara in Mumbai. While known for her macarons, she has also introduced choux pastries and cupcakes including a fantastic red velvet one. She also runs a cooking studio where cooking classes are held and is extremely popular on social media.
Sanjana Patel came back to Mumbai after spending ten years abroad, largely in France, and she too has trained in Le Cordon Bleu. She introduced Mumbai to French inspired desserts through her store La Folie. She is now planning to introduce a range of eclairs and go national with a pan India presence. She is also training for the finals of the pastry world cup where she is representing India. After struggling for long to get ingredients for her dessert she has now been able to establish a steady chain of local suppliers.
The action is not limited to Mumbai, as there are pastry chefs coming up in places like Bangalore, Kolkata and Delhi.
|Post the adda with Kainaz, Pooja and Ipshita|
The story of Ipshita Chakladhar of Delhi is an interesting one. After a short stint in the hotel industry she moved to the media where she spent a decade and a half as an editor in the NDTV group.
However, her love for art, kept calling her back and she was trying to decide whether to get into baking or painting.
Luckily for us, she chose baking and taught herself sugar craft and now makes some of the prettiest cakes around. She has even been able to make a dint into the status and brand driven Delhi market and convinced people to order cakes from her and not through posh five star hotel patisseries. She is now planning to take the plunge and open a store after operating from home all this while.
There are lots of talented bakers in India and many I am sure are inspired by these trailblazers.
The world couldn’t get more sweeter for us dessert lovers.
To know more about these dessert queens check this video for the adda I conducted with them.