An Ode To The Greatest Bakery Foods Across India
Image Credit: Biscuits | Image Credit:

From the streets of Delhi to the markets of Mumbai, India's bakery foods have long been a source of comfort and joy for generations of Indians. Whether it's a spongy, sugary jam bun or a crispy samosa, these treats are a delicious part of India's diverse culinary scene. But while these treats can be a delightful indulgence, they can also be a source of questionable health benefits. From the calorie-dense pastries to the deep-fried snacks, India's bakery foods can be both a delicious blessing and a nutritional curse.

Sweet-smelling Nostalgia

 Small, mom-and-pop bakeries with tempting treats behind glass cases always evoke a sense of longing for a simpler time. When I was a kid, going to the bakery was like exploring the candy factory in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." We all have fond childhood memories of indulging in sinful and unhealthy treats like cream buns, stuffed cream cones, jam buns, puffs (vegetable, egg, or chicken), bun maska, and colorful pastries arranged in neat rows, cookies, and biscuits of varying shapes and sizes. It was truly a magical experience, not to mention the wonderful aromas and smells of freshly baked treats that could be smelled from a mile away.

Here are some popular bakery foods that have remained popular for decades and continue to delight kids and adults alike, even to this day!

1.    Shrewsbury biscuits (a snack from the time of the Second World War) gained immense popularity all across the length and breadth of India after being popularized by bakeries in other parts of the country, such as Pune.

2.    Fruit cakes and macarons are staples in the New Market in Kolkata. 

3.    Since the late 19th century, the Iranians who settled in Bombay and Pune came up with "Mawa cakes," soft, buttery, cardamom-infused cupcakes rolled in wax paper that have been a staple of the menus at Irani cafés and bakeries ever since.

4.    Then there's "Bhaat cake," the crown jewel of Goa, which features desiccated coconut powder as the star ingredient alongside salted butter, eggs, semolina, and plenty of other stuff.

5.    Even though Puducherry's Franco-Indian Christian community traditionally bakes Pondicherry cake for Christmas, you can get your hands on some any time of year at bakeries around the old town.

6.    Allahabad cake, a spiced fruit cake made with nutmeg, saunf (fennel seeds), cinnamon, caraway seeds, and ghee, can also be traced back to the Anglo-Indians.

7.    Odisha has its own delicious cheesecake called "chennapoda."

8.    Parsees in Surat began selling the traditional bread and puff for cheap, which eventually evolved into the rusk (a dry Iranian biscuit) as we know it today. 

The Bakery Market in India Today

According to many reports, the Indian bakery market was valued at $10.2 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $19.3 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 8–10% during the forecast period.

India's food sector is already the second largest in the world, behind China, and has the potential to become the largest. It's safe to say that the bakery industry in India is a sizeable part of the overall processed food market in the country. The two most common baked goods in the country are bread and biscuits, which together account for more than 82% of the industry.

Factors pushing the industry forward include the following:

1.    E-retailing of bakery products

9.    Improvements in baking technology

10.    Improved packaging 

11.    Innovation in ingredients

12.    Replacement of unhealthy ingredients with their healthier counterparts

As tempting as these sweet delights are, there are also several potential health concerns related to eating Indian sweets and cakes from local bakeries. To name a few:

    High sugar content: Many Indian sweets and cakes are made with large amounts of sugar, which can contribute to the development of dental cavities and other oral health problems.

    High fat content: Some Indian sweets and cakes may be high in saturated or trans fats, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

    Food safety: Local bakeries may not follow the same food safety standards as larger commercial bakeries, which could increase the risk of food-borne illness.

    Allergens: Some Indian sweets and cakes may contain ingredients that trigger allergies or intolerances in certain individuals.

In conclusion, Indian bakeries offer a wide variety of delicious and unique sweets and cakes that are enjoyed by people around the world. It's best to enjoy Indian sweets and cakes in moderation as part of a balanced diet and to follow good food safety practices. Indian bakeries continue to be a beloved and integral part of many communities, offering a taste of tradition and cultural heritage.