Food

A bit of brownie heaven

Shweta at her work space  

The basement of her house is where the magic unfolds. In the night, when her family sleeps, her room transforms into a world of crafts. And, Shweta Gupta works fast to turn out pretty garments, gift trousseaus and chocolate boxes. “If people do not find me in the house, they know where I am. I have always wanted to do craft since my childhood. I used to bunk classes and join craft classes,” she says.

Shweta wears many hats. She bakes, designs clothes and paints. Her house is filled with oil and glass paintings. Her rooms are strewn with craft items from across the world: floral tins from Malaysia, pretty little kettles, brocades, etc. “If I see something nice, I go for it. And, there are kind friends in abroad, who think of me when they find anything interesting.” Even loofahs and bottle caps find space here!

She is a star among her daughter’s friends, who come to her for gift ideas on Valentine’s Days! Her heart-shaped chocolate boxes and candles are big hits. Edible visiting cards, Diwali tags and colourful kettles with cake pops... she never runs out of ideas. Her enterprise is called ‘Brown Sugar’ and a delicious smell of baked goodies always floats in her kitchen. “The kitchen is a happy space for me,” says Shweta.

I visit her as she is busy dispatching a few orders to Chennai. I am greeted with a warm smile, creamy cold coffee and brownies so gooey that they melt in my mouth. “It’s a secret recipe. I cannot divulge it,” Shweta winks. She still remembers the rousing response to the first batch. Five years ago, before Diwali, she had baked 25,000 brownies and they sold like hot cakes. The news spread like wildfire and, before she knew it, people had queued up in front of her door for more! “No one knows the recipe, but me and my daughter,” she says. Shweta also makes mini-cupcakes, gift chocolates, cakes and cake pops.

Shweta is best known for working for people with specific budgets. “I procure my tins way before the season. That’s how I manage to make my products affordable.” She owes many of her dessert recipes to her Malaysian friend, who she says is an “angel”. “She taught me everything — pineapple upside-down cake, macaroons, brownies, etc. I used to think that all those steps in the recipe books were just for drama. But, she taught me that rules are there for a reason and that measurement have to be followed precisely.”

And to think she knew absolutely zilch about cooking! “I led a carefree life, not worried about anything. It was my mother-in-law, who initiated me into cooking. Slowly, I got interested and, before I knew, I fell in love with cooking.” However, she waited for her son and daughter to grow up first. “I did not want them to tell me later that I did not have time for them. I was with them through out.”

Once, her daughter and son started college, Shweta decided to pursue her higher studies. Last year, she enrolled for a Baking and Patisserie course at the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai. The institute turned her into a professional, she says.

She loves to travel and, wherever she goes, she loves to inspect the kitchen there. “Once I went to Colombo and was so impressed the way the food was displayed there that I begged and pleaded and finally managed to enter the kitchen of the hotel where we stayed. I spoke to the chefs and picked up a few tips.”

Even though she is happy baking at her home, Shweta realised the importance of taking part in exhibitions. She has taken part in four of them, including a gourmet bazaar, Craft Council expo and the Organza expo. “One has to be visible to get one’s name established. You get to know people with different temperaments. And, it feels encouraging when they appreciate your work.”

She also takes cookery classes for children. She is happy to see more boys taking interest in cooking. “Many of them are shy and hesitant. I remind them that some of the best chefs in the world are men, our own Sanjeev Kapoor for example.”

Her children also love cooking, especially her daughter, who studies fashion designing. Shweta’s dream is to start a bakery with her. The thought crossed her mind, when she visited Theobromas, Mumbai, a bakery run by a mother and daughter. “Ever since then, I have been dreaming of one run by the two of us. My daughter even came up with a name, “Mini Muffins for Cocoa lovers.” I am waiting for the day when we can do business together.”

For more details, call Shweta at 88709-99666 or visit her Facebook page of Brown Sugar.


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 3:06:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/shweta-gupta-on-how-she-thinks-up-innovative-gifts/article7912480.ece

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