The one way to tell that theres a (slight) nip in the Kolkata air is the growing crowd at Nahoums,the bakery set up in 1902 by Jewish confectioner Nahoum Israel Mordecai. The rich fruit and plum cake,as untainted by modernity,or Indian ingredients,as the baclava and malfoofs that used to grace its counters in the last century,is the biggest draw. We havent altered our recipes a bit. Nor do we compromise on ingredients. We are very old-fashioned, says JC Haldar,manager at the shop for 25 years.
Even in a city as fond of the past as this,recipes are moving on. Chef Sujan Mukherjee at Taj Bengal has taken Bengals winter favourite nolen gur (jaggery made from date juice) out of its sandesh-payesh rut to grace a grand three-tier cake. The cake comprises a nolen gur sponge covered with comparatively harder sugar icing. Instead of sugar,the pastry chefs condense the delicious gur and add it to the cake batter. Nolen gur,which has lent itself to everything from rosogolla to ice cream,seems at home in the cake.
Vikas Kumar,executive chef at The Park Hotel,has gone ahead and given the cheesecake a Bengali makeover with the mishti doi cheesecake. Kumar replaced the sour cream that is mixed with cream cheese with the curd. If I had infused a little rosemary in it,Calcutta wouldnt take to it. So mishti doi was an obvious choice when I thought of playing around with the cheesecake, says Kumar. He has a winner at hand. The slight tanginess of mishti doi perfectly complements the cheese,and the dish is served with sour cherry compote.