One of the heirlooms of Thea Tammeleht’s family was a traditional Estonian recipe for Marzepan (as marzipan is known in the alleged country of its origin), passed down over six generations. While Tammeleht, like her mother and her mother before her, used the recipe to make sweets for friends and family, it was her Indian husband, Thomas Abraham, who suggested the commercial potential of handmade, traditionally crafted marzipan in India. After registering Nordic Kandie Magic as a company in 2013 (a process which took a single day there and four months in India), Tammeleht started crafting and packaging marzipan across Scandinavia and Northern Europe. When Abraham’s work brought them to Mumbai last year, they brought along Nordic Kandie Magic. The couple are in the city to debut their kiosk, at the Neel Sutra bridal lounge in Khan Market, over the weekend.
“Our flagship store in Mumbai is still in the process of opening, but we’ve been retailing marzipan across the country since February, with orders coming in from both metros as well as Tier-2 cities like Nagpur. Funnily enough most of our orders come through WhatsApp, our clients don’t bother with our website,” says Abraham, who heads an IT firm when not acting as Tammeleht’s business sounding board.
Tammeleht herself doesn’t have any culinary training. With a Masters degree in counselling and special education, food is something that came naturally to her; as children, she and her brother helped out at their mother’s F&B business. She used to work at the University till 4pm, following which she would don an apron at her family’s cafes.
Now she works solely on Nordic Kandie, crafting about 300 pieces a day. The marzipan comes in 14 flavours, nine from the original European brand and five new ones created in association with chef Vicky Ratnani specially for the Indian market with options such as anjeer, nutmeg and mango-chilli, with prices starting at Rs 200 for a single kandie/pop.
The marzipan is made using Mamra almonds from Iran (which are ironically easier to source in India, given the severe sanctions imposed on the Islamic state by the West), Belgian Chocolate and locally sourced organic sugar, with some coated with edible silver and gold. The edible covering is provided by Giusto Manetti Battiloro, a Florence-based company which has been making gold leaves since 1820 and has bedecked monuments as august as the Palace of Versailles, the halls of Windsor Castle and the domeof the Church of the Holy Sepulcherin Jerusalem.
So go ahead, take a bite out of history; it promises to be sweet.