Food

A passion for baking led Nitash Lalkaka to set up his eponymous patisserie

Customers can choose from cakes and breads, including a saffron, pistachio and rose cake, and buckwheat ragi sourdough

Take a stroll down quiet Hutchins Road and you may find yourself arrested by the aroma of freshly baked goods wafting out into the street. There is no board announcing the existence of Patisserie Nitash, but founder Nitash Lalkaka (42) says everyone in the neighbourhood knows where it is (borne out by the kindly security guard down the road who points out the place).

Located on the ground floor (there are apartments above), the patisserie does not have a retail outlet. Instead, Nitash and his team of three, bake cakes on order from a menu that ranges from black forest cake, pear and chocolate gateaux, rich chocolate ganache, baked New York cheesecake with fruit toppings to the most recent offering — a saffron, pistachio and rose cake. “The most popular is the salted caramel chocolate cake. We have many options but people ultimately come back to chocolate,” he says. Once or twice a week, the patisserie also makes breads such as buckwheat ragi sourdough, honey whole wheat and even gluten-free options.

A passion for baking led Nitash Lalkaka to set up his eponymous patisserie

So how did it all begin for the Kolkata native? “Baking was always my passion. As a child of 12 or 13, I would not play outside even when I had spare time. Instead, I would look up recipes and try out new things. And not simple sponge cakes. The first black forest cake I made was so hard, it could not even be cut. I remember my father saying ‘It is so hard, we need a hammer to break this’,” laughs Nitash. “But as I kept baking, I got better and better and then decided to make it a career.”

While his parents initially thought it was just a hobby, it became apparent that that was not the case. After completing his BCom, Nitash insisted this was the career he wanted. He then studied at the New England Culinary Institute in the US, specialising in baking and confectionery towards the end of the programme. When his parents settled in Bengaluru after retirement, it seemed but natural to set up a place here.

A passion for baking led Nitash Lalkaka to set up his eponymous patisserie

So in 2004, Patisserie Nitash was born. “It was very small; I used to do it from my house. Taking one order at a time and then built it up like that. Even now, it is all through word-of-mouth. I have no way of advertising.” His wife, Navaz, is the one who takes care of social media updates.

He adds that even now people ask him about expanding and opening a retail outlet. “My expertise is in the kitchen. I don’t know how to do it frankly.” Shaking his head, he adds, “It won’t work. The minute you are bogged down by a huge rent to pay, you start cutting corners and trying to reduce costs and the quality of ingredients.”

This means that right now whoever wants to order cakes or breads has to get on the WhatsApp groups. At present, there are 400 people on it and orders come from different parts of the city. The patisserie also takes corporate orders.

While cakes are priced between ₹1,200 and ₹1,800 for 1 kilogram, breads start at ₹120. To order, call 9845427364 or visit nitash.in.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 2:40:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/a-passion-for-baking-led-nitash-lalkaka-to-set-up-his-eponymous-patisserie/article30607471.ece

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