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The scent of a loaf: Kayani Bakery Pune

Kayani Bakery in Pune has been dishing out fresh shrewsbury biscuits, sourdough breads and mawa cakes since 1955

It’s 7.30 am on a Saturday and one of the oldest bakeries in Pune Camp’s East Street has already come to life. The shutters are rolled up and the biscuits and bread lined in the oven. Within a few minutes, the first batch of bakes rolls out. Even today, in this old corner of the city, the heady aroma of freshly baked bread is all pervasive.

Article by Pranjali Bhonde Pethe | The Hindu

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Amidst the morning calm, there is a flurry of activity — people can be seen scurrying around for milk bread, biscuits and mawa cakes.

There’s enough din near the bakery to make me believe that this iconic bakery has indeed stood the test of time — rolling out fresh bakes since 1955.

In the air

As I walk closer, the wafting aroma of freshly baked breads and biscuits engulfs me. As customers walk out of the bakery, with a packet or two in hand, there is a sign of contentment. And rightly so, because most of their products — the shrewsbury biscuits, nankhatai , khaari , and sourdough bread — disappear from the shelves in the blink of an eye. “You have to be lucky to lay your hands on their items,” says Gautam Majumdar, who has been a regular here for the last nine years. Every time he travels to Pune from Baroda to meet his son, he never misses a chance to visit the bakery, even if it means commuting 15 kilometres one way and anxiously waiting in the queue for hours.

Founded by Khodayar and Hormazdiar Kayani in 1955, the bakery has retained its charm and is an institution in itself. Apart from a few wooden chairs and tables and a blackboard that serves as a menu card displaying the day’s items on sale, the bakery retains a vintage charm. “It was started by my great grandfather, Khodayar Kayani, and his brother, Hormazdiar Kayani. They had migrated from Iran before 1947 and settled in Pune. At present, we are five partners — Pervez Kayani, Sohrab Kayani, Farokh Kayani, Rustom Kayani and I — who are handling the bakery and working in shifts daily,” says Paurushasp Kayani, one of the owners of the bakery.

“All the items we sell now have been there since inception, though we have added a few new varieties like cheese papdi, elaichi butter etc, which are some of our top selling items, apart from the shrewsbury biscuits and mawa cakes,” says Kayani.

Vintage charm

The bakery is routinely wrapped in the sweet scent of biscuits and buns, and is open all day except for a few hours in the afternoon. Even then, people eagerly queue up and await their turn, in a quest to lay their hands on the freshly baked goodies that have tumbled hot off the oven.

“On an average, we make around 250 kilos of shrewsbury biscuits and around 1,500 cakes every day,” smiles Kayani. But it’s not only the cakes or the shrewsbury biscuits that are hits. The ginger biscuits, nankhatai , sourdough and milk bread too have equal takers.

Anyone who has grown up in Pune or Mumbai would vouch for the products the bakery sells. Gauri Marathe, who hails from Mumbai and is a regular here, says, “I love the vintage charm of the place. The fresh aroma of breads, cakes and biscuits makes me visit this place time and again. The products are top notch and the quality is still intact.”

In the presence of other flashier bakeries in the neighbourhood, people still head here to tuck into the flavours that have passed down generations. They take comfort in familiar tastes and aromas.

“We still have regular clients who have been coming to our bakery for years and are very happy with the quality of products,” says Kayani.

Time tested

The bakery follows the same process of manufacturing cakes and biscuits as their ancestors did. Thus, it is no wonder that it has held its clients in a spell since 1955.

“There has been no change in the taste since the first time I had their products. The consistency of their products and quality have remained the same over years. My personal favourites are the shrewsbury biscuits, ginger biscuits, plum cakes and cup cakes,” says Majumdar. Perhaps that’s why, when he cannot make it here, there is always someone, family or friends visiting Pune, who pack in a packet or two for him.

Given the popularity, I ask Kayani if the bakery has any branches. “We don’t have any branches,” he dismisses, leaving me and the other patrons heartbroken.

In this weekly column, we peek into the histories of some of the country’s most iconic restaurants