They're much more than just fragrant store-houses of baked goodness. Pune’s famed bakeries are at once, the legacy and the changing face of a city—and its aspirations. A closer look at the city’s bakeries: from no-nonsense colonial structures that sell authentic recipes dating back to the Raj—to fitting tributes to home-grown Parsi-Iranian Mawa Cakes, to delicatessen reminiscent of European patisseries. Influenced by the fantabulous confluence between the officers of the Raj and the Parsi-Iranian bakers in the city, these iconic bakeries are singularly 'Pune' in their unique, charismatic way. Yesterday, today and tomorrow—mapped out in pastry batter. Bon appetit is not a wish—it's a guarantee.
Kayani Bakery (Established 1955)
Time seems to have stood still—even as you look at the old-fashioned architecture, complete with colonial-style high ceilings and wooden counters. The square blue boxes are the same—so is the simple string used to secure the contents. How much for a kilo of Shrewsbury biscuits—you ask—only to have a staff member point at the board on the wall. Everything is as it must have been—way back in 1955 when Hormuz and Khodayar Irani started the iconic bakery.And that's just how it is meant to be: constant, and untouched by the hands of time. The standard pick: Coffee marble cake and Mawa Cake (Rs 50 each), and Khari (Rs 200 per kilo.) As for their 'plain bread' at Rs 20—and milk bread at Rs 10, they fly off the counters as soon as they are ready. Day after day, the lines never seem to get any shorter. And as for the Shrewsbury—well you are too late for it! At Rs 320 a kilo—it’s as true to form as the original recipe brought in by the officers of the Cantonment Area way back in the Raj.
Also to die for is the Mawa cake (yep, made out of milk solids—an entirely desi creation.) Grab it before the last one flies off the counter. And if you didn't get what you waited for—tomorrow is another wait.
Opposite Victory Cinema, Dr Coyage Road, East street Camp, Pune, Maharashtra 411001
Phone: 020 2636 0517
If you're stuck with extra Mawa Cake (we can't imagine how), here's a step-by-step recipe for Kesari Mawa Pudding
Persian Bakery (Established 1921)
Here's a confession. When I first bought their diet bread for a family elder with a gluten allergy—I was more than a little nervous. The blessed bread looked grey—for God's sake—and was unsliced. ("It would spoil our slicer" says the staff. But warm the bread—daub just a dash of butter on it—and it's just lovely and comforting, especially with a cup of chai. Whoever said ragi doesn't taste as nice? Or their seven loaf bread—with seven different grains for that matter? And while you're at it, have a go at their cream rolls (Rs 10 each). "I would also recommend our newly introduced Hyderabadi biscuits and Honey Raisin Cookies," says manager Abdul Shaikh.
Then there's bagel—dense and tasty—as well as sour-dough buns and Ciabatta bread. "Customers today travel a lot. They like options like our pita bread, lavash sticks (Armenian breads respectively) and pizza bases for tea time snacks," says Shaikh.
383, Kolsa Gali, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Camp, Pune, Maharashtra 411001
Phone: 020 2634 4246
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Viceroy: (Since 1958)
“We’re open throughout the day and night, the shutters are down only for a couple of hours, drop in any time,” says the manager Ali Hassan, upholding Viceroy’s reputation of being an affordable and dependable destination that has served late-night snacks to generations of college students, and those on the graveyard shift. Its location just across the railway station makes it the right place to pick up ‘specialty’ goodies to gift or carry on your train journeys. They sell nine kinds of nankhatai, all baked in-house and served fresh. Their specials: Roat (a soft cookie that crumbles easily) and phatasha butter (small round rusk, the size of peas). Another must-have is the coconut macroon and Lamington, a sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce and rolled in dessicated coconut.
Opposite Pune Railway Station.
Ph: 020 64017272
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Marzorin: (Established 1965)
"My husband won’t admit it, but I think Marzorin is the Anglicised version of an Iranian girl’s name,” chortles the effervescent Vijay Shariarjee-wife to the proprietor, and boss lady for the 44 years she's been married.
“We don't make any bread or rolls to sell. We need them all—yes, the 300 kilos of bread and 500 plus rolls—for our own sandwiches, rolls and burgers,” she says. For a leading bakery, they sure are high on the health front too. "For so many years now, we have also been selling sugar-free fruit juices, coffees and lassi, as well as sugar free cakes and chocolates for diabetics," says Vijay, a diabetic herself. "We believe in changing with the times—even as we keep the core intact."
So if you're a Vegan, do try out their wholewheat sandwiches with dairy-free sauce or their buckwheat noodles. The breads are made using the same recipes handed down to them. "My kids, and two generations of Pune's children, grew up on it. I am not messing with any of it, change or not," she says. They sell about 1000 chutney sandwiches (Rs 40) and 500 chicken sandwiches (Rs 50)-cum-rolls every-day. “Where's the question of using preservatives? We make everything fresh—and we make it from scratch.”
Bakthiar Plaza, 6, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Camp, Pune, Maharashtra 411001
Phone: 020 2613 0774
This Mango Drink is an Ode to Pune's Affair with Mastani
Imperial Bakery (Since 1950)
Here's where they supply the city's bakeries with their share of broons and buns. From wholewheat to multi-grain and good old white bread, there's a distinctive flavour to the produce. Not to miss!
Near Pulgate Post Office, Pulgate, East Street, Pune
Phone: 020 26362463
Featured image: Vartika Pahuja
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