Am I old fashioned or are the tastes of the Mumbaikars changing rapidly? I miss the easily available bun maska, hot pav from my local bakery. The mava cakes have been replaced by fancy cup cakes.
No visit to Andheri station was complete without a Bun maska and chai at the Irani bakery at the corner, outside the station. Alas! But it is gone. This was a hot-spot for many Mumbaikars, until some months ago. But times have changed. Widely travelled, the customer has developed a discerning palate too. Bakeries in the city have thus given themselves a facelift.
This change can be attributed to the evolving demographics and lifestyle. The affluence in urban cities like Mumbai have opened doors of opportunities for the bakery sector. The present day consumer looks for new products, better appeal, taste and convenience. Andheri West has a plethora of bakeries. Bakers & More is perpetually packed with a demand for fancy breads, exotic cakes. Sheila’s cakes and bites is no different. People clamour for whole wheat breads and garlic loaves.
The gap is narrowing and with a lot of international companies coming intoIndia, customers know what they want and are aware of the real taste. The customer today is well-informed and is both quality as well as health-conscious. So naturally, shops have to cater to the changing needs of customers. They don’t mind paying a price for the real thing.
Varieties of breads ranging from whole wheat to multi grain, as per international trends, cakes, stores have it all. I too have become adventurous and experimented. Foccacia and Ciabatta breads are my personal favourites. I also enjoy the breads from Café Moshe’s. They are so fresh and of great quality. Godrej Nature’s Basket closer home, at Lokhandwala too offers a great variety of breads.
Emil Carvalho of American Express Bakery, once told me, “We too have evolved and have had to change with the times. We have moved to self-service, as customers prefer that. That is the trend abroad and clearly the Indian customer wants that. People demand what they have tried abroad and we have to provide that. ”
Tirandaz Irani of Mumbai’s oldest Irani Bakery, Yazdani, too agrees. However, he is emphatic about the fact that no one makes bun-maska or khari biscuits like they do and if you want the real experience of an old-fashioned Irani bakery, you can “still come to us.”
I know what he means, because I still miss the soft milk bread available at Kalimpong Home Products on Middleton Row in Calcutta, which I grew up on as a child. That is why I still love our village in Goa. Every morning the bread man comes honking and sells some delicious fresh breads like kankon, pavs, poi. No, he refuses to reinvent himself.