If you live in a city (which you probably do if you are reading this), you might have noticed the bakeries that are popping up everywhere like pimples on a teenager’s face. They are taking over the streets with a vengeance. Gone are the days of the mithaiwalas who used to sit in the front porch of their shops with a big kadhai frying delicacies dipped in chashni. The bakers have finally arrived in the home of the Indian petit bourgeois. Be it Diwali, Christmas, Eid, birthday, anniversary, marriage or even an old style roka, the baker is present through his stylized cake. ‘Let them eat cake’ seems to have become a general motto of the Indian market.
Like everything British, the consumption of cakes has long been a marker of modernity in India. At first, only the British memsahibs ever ate cake, and that too, only in their domestic spheres. Then, in the November of 1883, Mambally Bapu made the first commercial cake in India at the Royal Biscuit Factory in Thalassery, Kerala. Bapu democratized the cake and popularized British tastes among the Malayalis. Today, there are over 50,000 bakeries in Kerala alone.
We have all eaten cakes, whether it be out of packets while we are travelling, or at some celebration. Cakes have become so Indianized that a whole new genre of cakes has developed on the world market, the eggless cake. In this episode, Vikram Doctor will tell us how it was that cakes became so much our own that even the self-styled swadeshi RSS started using them at their celebrations.