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As a child, I used to be very excited to visit a bakery with my father. With warm yellow lights illuminating the delicious freshly baked goods in glass closures, it was difficult for me to choose a few delicacies when I wanted to taste them all!
So, as an adult, I always go to the oldest and well-known bakeries in every city I visit. These establishments are distinct and steeped in history, dishing out some of the best bakes.
Here is a list of some of India’s oldest and most iconic bakeries!
1. Kayani Bakery, Pune
Ask any Punekar to list the top five things they love about their city and this Parsi bakery is bound to pop up! It first opened in 1955 and was started by brothers Khodayar and Hormazdiar Kayani, making some of the most delicious, melt-in-the-mouth cookies famous all over the country.
Yes, I am speaking about the Shrewsbury biscuits which are a popular English dessert, originating in a town in Shropshire.
2. Jila Bakery, Loutolim
Located in the Loutolim village in South Goa, away from the bustling crowd, this bakery was started by a couple–Jose Inacio and Ludovina Antao (JILA)–in their home in 1972. Today, it is managed by their three sons–Reinaldo, Antonio and John Britto Antao with their families.
Some specialities are rich Plum cake, Macaroons, Caramel-butter cake, Geneva Pastry, Apple Strudel, and the lovely Eclairs.
So, the next time you’re in Goa, make sure you taste these delectable bakes made with love.
3. Smith Field Bakery, Chennai
This 135-year-old bakery first started catering to its customers in 1885 and continues to be popular in the city. Founded by Ponnuswamy N in the heart of erstwhile Madras, it has been a go-to place for cakes to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. The plum cakes, tea cakes, and fruit cakes are some of the oldest baked options on offer.
A crowd favourite are the jam buns, chicken and veg puffs. They also bake fresh bread and sell about 150 loaves every day. They also have an amazing selection of cookies and biscuits stored in large glass jars at the counter.
4. Nahoum’s, Kolkata
This 118-year-old bakery is a local favourite and adds to the old-world charm of the city of joy. Opened in 1902 by Nahoum Israel Mordecai, a Baghdadi Jew, it would deliver baked goods from door to door. It was only in 1916 that the physical bakery was established, and since then, it has become a household name.
The Jewish bakery is popular among college students for its affordable rates and specialties like the Almond pastry, Marzipan, Date sticks, Baklava, and Jewish cheese samosas and patties.
5. Albert Bakery, Bengaluru
This iconic bakery is located in Frazer Town and has been catering to Bengalureans since 1902!
Founded by Mohammed Suleman, it is not just any other conventional bakery but offers some of the most unique baked goods. Some crowd favorites include Keema samosas, Chicken seekh rolls, Cocktail samosas, Chicken Malai cutlet, bheja puff, and the most famous, khova naan.
To make the khova naan, khoya (reduced milk) is carefully filled between layers of filo pastry with butter and sugar. One can only imagine how delectable the dish is when fresh out of the oven.
6. Mambally’s Royal Biscuit Factory, Thalassery
Perhaps the oldest in this list, the Thalassery Bakery was founded in 1880 by Mambally Bapu.
Interestingly, the first Christmas Cake was made by this bakery in 1883! It is said that the founder mastered the art of biscuit making in Burma and upon his return, wanted Malayalis to try baked goods. He started his bakery with 40 varieties of buns, bread, and biscuits. Because yeast wasn’t available at the time, he would use toddy to ferment the dough used to bake the bread.
So, if ever you happen to visit the coastal town, make sure to taste a slice of cake with a side of history.
7. Ahdoo’s, Srinagar
Overlooking the banks of the Jhelum, close to the iconic Dal Lake in the Kashmir valley, it was 1918 when this bakery first opened its doors. It was started by Abdul Ahad who worked as an accountant for Maharaja Hari Singh. The baked goods on offer include soft cakes, chicken pattice, kebabs, butter toast, and the famous Seek-e-tujj, a famous Kashmiri barbeque.
When it completed 100 years, it was renamed, ‘Crème’. Now, it has grown to become a restaurant that showcases the best of Kashmiri cuisine with dishes like Gushtaba, Mirchi korma, Wazwan, among others.
8. Yazdani Bakery, Mumbai
If you are in Mumbai and want to kickstart your day with buttery Bun maska, and a cup of strong Irani chai, this is the place to be. This Parsi bakery tucked is away in the gallis of Mumbai’s Fort area was established in 1951 by Zend Meherwan Zend.
Currently, it is owned and managed by Parvez Irani and is known for its Apple pies, Egg Puff, Rum cake, and the flavoursome Ginger biscuits, among other dishes.
Yazdani also bakes about 1,000 of the soft and fluffy laadi pavs, a type of bun which is famously used in Mumbai to make Vada Pav, and eaten as the perfect accompaniment to a plate of spicy keema.
9. Wenger’s, New Delhi
Located in the heart of Connaught Place in Delhi, this bakery exudes old world charm right as you step into it. Designed in 1926 by British Architect Sir Robert Tor Russell, it opened its doors in 1933.
Wenger’s, at the time, was owned by Swiss couple Jeanne Sterchi Wenger and H C Wenger, and a favourite among the imperialists. In 1945, Brij Mohan Tandon, who was the manager, bought it from the Swiss couple; his family has been running it ever since.
The food at Wenger’s is incomparable; during my college days, I would often go there when I was craving some soft sugar doughnuts, apple pies, sandwiches, waffles, paninis, and milkshakes. No Delhi experience is complete without a trip to this amazing bakery.
10. Glenary’s, Darjeeling
Nestled in the midst of the rolling hills, this Darjeeling cafe has been in operation since 1935. Started by Jater Pilva, an Italian, the bakery was originally called ‘Vado’.
Later, it was bought by a family who moved from Patna but it was sold to Augustine Tarcius Edwards in 1959. Since then, it has been managed by the Edwards family.
Located in Darjeeling’s Mall Road, the bakery and cafe are known for their breakfast options that include sandwiches, meat pies, cinnamon buns, fresh bread and cakes, served with a cup of aromatic Darjeeling tea, overlooking the beautiful view.
Fellow lovers of baked goods, make note of each of these bakeries. Once COVID-19 is eradicated, you know where to go to treat yourself!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)