Well, the chill is here in Kolkata- monkey caps are out. Now, if winter comes in Kolkata, can the Christmas cakes be far behind ? Impossible… hence, this write-up consists of some of the known and lesser-known fruitcake joints in Kolkata.
You might like to read my 2016 experience for Lalit Great Eastern’s Christmas cake here.
Firstly, we will start with a very lesser-known fruit-cake joint in Kolkata. But, the problem is those who know it, they swear by it and never purchase anywhere else and it reached a cult status among its followers. The Barua Cake Shop- a.k.a Mantu da’s shop (Bow Barracks)
Barua Cake Shop- a.k.a Mantus da’s shop (Bow Barracks)
How to go and when to go:-
If you’re familiar to Kolkata, you’ve come down to the Ganesh Chandra Avenue and Central avenue crossing. For outsiders, rely on a taxi, please. From that place, the second or third big building towards shyambazar is the Air India Building. Take the previous lane before that building- left turn and you’ll find Bowbazar police station. Opposite to the same, lies a park and next to it, is 2 sets of red-bricked barrack houses. The place is called Bow Barracks. This shop lies there. Ask anybody for Mantu da’s cake shop/ Barua cake shop, and you’ll reach there. Timing is 0900 AM- 0900 PM on all days, but give a call to them and they’ll be happy to supply your cake on odd hours also. No home delivery.
The shop is run by Mantu da, his wife, son and brother Ratan da (in the photo below). They’re into this business for little over 70 years and know this business damn well.
Casually I asked them about their special cake. The response was “Rich Fruit Cake”. Now, anything other than that ? And I was guided to their hidden jewel- the Chhana Pudding. This is something previously unheard off to me- at least not in a cake shop. The bog box (1 pound appr) came for 150/- and I took it happily at home. The unwrapping was delicious. Its a little moist baked cake (sort of the famed Oriya chhanapoda) but heavily stuffed with dry fruits and nuts. Its a little less on the sugary-side and that’s the beauty of this product. I was able to feel the aroma of chhana, but was unable to figure out the other ingredients- though a substantial amount of flour, egg and other things must have gone in to give it its cake-like structure.
Just asked about their business hours. The reply was that they operate almost 20 hours a day for the christmas week, such is the rush and sell about 500 pounds of fruit cake each day during these 3 days.Boy, was I amazed ? This shop, later I found out from other Kolkata foodies, is the landmark cake shop for the bow-barracks area and they really keep upto their brand name. They make pretty good and popular fruit cake and plum cakes, but after finding the jewel, who wants to go for the rest ?
Next was the mandatory Nahoum’s rich fruit cake.
Nahoum’s rich fruit cake
Now, in Kolkata, in fruit cake segment, probably nahoum is THE best (considering flury’s in mind) and one of the oldest. Its tucked inside the old new market block and can be easily recognized by the long glass window, smell of the bakery items and the long que during christmas season.
This fruit cake is heavily rich with fruit soaked for long in rum (or brandy it is ? ) and gets a dark texture. Little strong in flavor, heavily bodied, it takes you with the first bite and the christmas mood sets in immediately. The price is around 550/- for a 2 pound cake and its well worth it… (I didn’t pay for the cake and hence don’t know actual price)
Monginis Dundee Cake
Dundee cake is a famous traditional Scottish fruit cake with a rich flavor. The cake is often made with currants, sultanas and almonds; sometimes, fruit peel may be added to it. The cake originated in nineteenth-century Scotland. A popular story is that Mary Queen of Scots did not like glace cherries in her cakes, so the cake was first made for her, as a fruit cake that used blanched almonds and not cherries.The top of the cake is typically decorated with concentric circles of almonds. This Dundee cake, nowadays is extremely popular in kolkata cake circuit and Monginis is a strong vendor in this segment. Now I must say in 250/- for 1 kg, with a tin circular container (highly popular among our household ladies for storing other items), this is a pretty good deal. Its not as good a barua bakery or nahoum’s but still ok-ish type.
Next what we had was the Rich (???) Fruit Cake from Bisk Farm. Now bisk farm of a reowned name in common bakery products and make pretty good biscuits. Tried their rich fruit cake for the first time and sadly, it disheartened me absolutely. A very dried cake with very less amount of dry fruits inside came. But, the packaging was excellent- moderately priced (225/- for 1 kg). Sadly, the taste was not upto the mark.
In the below picture, the extreme left one of from Bisk Farm, the mid-one is from Monginis and the right-most one is from the Nahoum’s. No prize for guessing which one is the best-tasted.
And the chhana cake from Barua’s below:
LAstly, we had a rum cake from a restaurant called Bon Apetite in AD-Block, Salt Lake.
Its a very popular name for young generation for good quality snacks and currently having multiple outlets in the city. But, this time, they surprised me with their Rum Cake. Basically, its a heavily (I mean real heavily stuffed) rich fruit cake with LOTS of rum-soaked dry fruits and nuts stuffed inside. The heavy stuffing gave the cake a little heavy and moist texture. I am extremely sorry for not carrying the camera then and hence no photographs. But, do try it. The owner is Mr. Rahul Arora and the cake is actually brilliant (with 475/- for 1.75 pounds).
Summing it up, the winner for this year’s Christmas fruit cake is Bon Apetit, Salt Lake and Nahoum’s New Market. And the special mentioned item is the Chhana Cake from Barua’s, Bow Barracks.