The reason why I love to talk about food and have conversations about it is that our lives revolve around our food. Food, to me, is part of any and every occasion or moment in our lives. We don’t let people leave our homes if we haven’t fed them properly. We literally force-feed people if they say no to it. We get proper offended (LOL). But this is who we are as a people – we live for food. Such is the case, only more special, of The Bombay Bakery.
If you’ve heard of Pakistan’s most iconic cake, you know where we’re going with this
If you haven’t heard of it, you might wonder what’s so special about it, well, you might want to stick around a while for that.
Set in the city of Hyderabad exists The Bombay Bakery – The Shop In A Bungalow.
Established in the year 1911 by the Thadani family, The Bombay Bakery has been around for a total of 107 years.
It would be an understatement to say that the bakery has stood the test of time. You would expect it to have died down by now, however, that’s far from the truth. The Bombay Bakery has actually grown to become way more popular in the past decades than it ever was. The name of the bakery itself reminds us of the past. Of the pre-partition times, when Bombay wasn’t separated by a border. There’s also a Karachi Bakery (est. 1953) in Hyderabad, India that is insanely popular. Hence it’s almost romantic that we’ve held onto our shared pasts, shared cities, and continue to cherish them with none other than… meetha, despite our political differences of today.
In the age of modern cakes, what is it that takes people back to The Bombay Bakery’s age-old, traditional cakes?
Believe me when I say this. The Bombay Bakery has lines and lines of people waiting to get their hands on the cakes, even before the bakery opens. Ever seen that at Masoom’s? Shezan? Gourmet? Nope. People stand in the scorching Hyderabadi heat for hours, and sometimes they even have to go home empty-handed. Why I call these cakes the most traveled is because I myself have come home on three separate occasions to two simple white boxes wrapped up in green plastic tie/ribbon and have thought how on Earth does my father pull this off while living in Lahore.
The first time I saw the cakes, coffee and chocolate, I made a weird ‘burger’ face making it pretty evident how I felt about them. By appearance, they seemed ‘sastay’, as one would call them. But since I have a sweet tooth, I went in with a fork regardless. Woh din hai aur aaj ka, if those cakes make it to Lahore, my sisters and I have proper fights over them.
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It’s almost impossible to keep up with demand
Why I say there have always been two cakes is because the bakery only gives out two cakes per person. At times they have to send people home since it’s practically impossible to bake cakes in a bungalow for hundreds and hundreds of people. These cakes have been to so many cities in Pakistan that you’re just like, “Whaaaat? Impossible!!!”
You’ll also be surprised to know that these delicious AF cakes are purchased and sold in black. BLACK. It’s bizarre when you hear about it, but it’s true and it happens. In addition, The Bombay Bakery has to limit its quantity to focus more on quality and taste. I first tried the cakes in 2001, and every single time I’ve gotten the chance to have them, they’ve been exactly the same taste. I mean, the cake is okay-looking, the sponge very rich and dense, the flavor spectacular and consistent, and the icings – just parfait!
It’s also shocking how they haven’t become redundant serving the same three cakes since forever
The Bombay Bakery has always had the same cakes – chocolate, coffee, and macaroon and I suspect there’s one more. While it’s unfortunate that I haven’t ever been able to have the macaroon cake, I still ponder from time to time how people in Hyderabad and in other cities of Pakistan continue to go back for the same cakes every time. We may ask for options and variety when it comes to other food, but it seems like we naturally make an exception for this bakery. After all, the bakery exists today because of us and if we didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be there anymore.
In fact, we’re thankful that we even get to eat these cakes and no one can replace the buttery, yummy goodness they are. Many competitors have tried to recreate and sell the cake, and I’m glad to say, they’ve failed. We just hope the bakery stays around for another 100 years and more!
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If you ever have the chance to try out their cakes, do not let go of that opportunity. While this piece may seem exaggerated beyond belief, it actually isn’t.
Do let us know your experiences and memories with The Bombay Bakery and its simple but delicious cakes.
Cover image via: Bisma Tirmizi / Dawn.com