Forty-seven years ago, Azra Goriawalla used a Le Cordon Bleu recipe book — a gift from a cousin — to bake a batch of chocolate brownies in her kitchen. This was an attempt to contribute to the family income after the birth of her daughter. The former accountant, who had given up her job after marriage, wished to begin working again and, with her mother’s encouragement, baked a batch of 16 brownies. She sold these through the Wakiki Snack Bar near her house in Breach Candy, Mumbai, and, soon, was regularly supplying homemade baked goodies to the restaurant.
“I hadn’t baked before. The snack bar was inviting food-makers to supply to them and the place was close to my house, so I thought why not?” she says.
Today, she gets orders from some of the city’s toniest addresses, and her customers include Bollywood A-listers and members of Mumbai’s high society. Yet, the founder of what is now Goriawalla’s Home-Made Cakes, wears her success lightly.
“I just got lucky,” she shrugs. “Most chocolate cake recipes are pretty much the same. It isn’t rocket science. We use flour, cocoa, butter and other basic ingredients that go into baking. I just got lucky with the proportions,” she says. The one thing that she takes credit for creating is the icing, the secret recipe which the 75-year-old came up with in 1972.
Inside the shop, which moved from Goriawalla’s home to its location on Slater Road in 2016, hangs a strong aroma of chocolate and vanilla. There are albums that contain photos of cakes. Customers once used these to place orders.
“With technology changing, most clients prefer to use WhatsApp to see what kind of designs we make. But I really do miss the days when there was so much more interaction between us and the clients,” says Goriawalla.
Renowned for their freshness and moistness, the cakes come in a few other flavours such as pineapple, vanilla and strawberry. The chocolate cake, however, is the shop’s most popular product, featuring in nine out of 10 orders.
Goriawalla’s daughter, Nimisha Attari, 47, joined the business full-time in 1994, although she had been helping out in the kitchen since she was a child. “We have a loyal staff and customer base and local vendors who have supplied us with raw materials since the beginning. It’s a happy, comfortable place,” she says.
The cakes — with and without eggs — are made to order, and patrons are required to call a day or two in advance, depending on the time of the year. “Festivals get quite busy and with Diwali coming up, we are going to be packed,” says Attari, who creates the designs for the icing.
Goriawalla says the current, small scale of production is comfortable and there is no expansion plan in the offing. “Any sort of expansion will result in some change in taste or drop in quality and we never wish to do that. We have never promoted our business either. We’re successful thanks to word-of-mouth publicity and goodwill,” she says.
To keep up with the times, Attari’s daughter, Sanaya, helps her out with social media outreach, and it is Goriawalla’s hope that she will some day join the business full-time. “She is only 22 and is figuring things out and there’s no pressure from our end,” she says. And if Sanaya does join, it will, as Goriawalla says, be “the icing on the cake”.
This article appeared in print with the headline ‘Families in Food: Baked to perfection’
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