The Story Of Breudher, The Dutch Cake That’s Also Found In Kochi
- Vritti Bansal
Updated : July 24, 2022 02:07 IST
Today, baking breudher is a tradition continued by only a few old bakeries that cater to a diminishing clientele.
An obscure bakery called Quality Bakery in Fort Kochi makes breudher every Saturday. The late C.V. Chandran, a baker, learnt the recipe from Anglo-Indian homes and passed it on to the staff at the bakery who continue to prepare the cake to this day. Besides the bakery, a few Anglo-Indian families also prepare breudher and each family has its own version.
Fort Kochi was a Dutch colony for over a hundred years. Before the Dutch, the Portuguese ruled over the region, and the British followed the Dutch. Each wave of colonisation led to the modification of the food culture of the city. The culinary practices of the colonisers and the region combined, resulting in foods that were an amalgamation of different cooking styles.
The Dutch influence on the cuisine of Kerala cuisine is not very noticeable. When they colonised the region, they also discovered its cuisine and left a subtle Dutch mark on it. Breudher is a remnant of those times and still exists in Fort Kochi, thanks to a few old bakers who have worked hard to safeguard the age-old recipe.
Kochi has a diverse gastronomic culture and breudher is a reminder of its colonial past. Anglo-Indian cuisine finds an important place in Fort Kochi and breudher is a small part of it that has survived thanks to the Eurasian palate of the people. The Anglo-Indians call breudher ‘the Dutch cake’. It has a unique flavour and aroma. Its texture resembled bread and the flavour is more like a cake. The cake is a favourite on festive mornings like Chrismtas, and uses flour, eggs, sugar, butter/ghee, yeast and raisins as its primary ingredients. The recipe varies locally, based on the ingredients that different cooks use. At Quality Bakery, candied orange peel is added to the dough, whereas in the bakery at Elite Hotel, a blend of ground spices is used.
Besides Fort Kochi, Eurasian communities in other parts of Asia have included breudher in their cuisine. The recipe and the description varies within these communities: breudher is known as a type of bread in Fort Kochi and as a buttery yeast cake elsewhere, like in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, all of which have been Dutch colonies. It has been estimated that breudher could have been a creole recipe developed in one of the older Dutch colonies in India and introduced to Kochi later. Earlier, breudher was very popular in Fort Kochi and several bakeries made it. As Anglo-Indians moved out of Fort Kochi and modern food began to overshadow traditional dishes, breudher became scarce.
Today, baking breudher is a tradition continued by only a few old bakeries that cater to a diminishing clientele. Quality Bakery is the most well-known among these. Another place in Fort Kochi that makes breudher is Elite Hotel, which is located at Princess Street. Breudher is made to order by Elite’s chef M. B. Asheeq. The Hotel was established by the late P. M. Thommen. His youngest son, P. T. James, currently owns the place. According to an article in Ayurveda Journals, James believes that breudher has ritualistic significance in their community.
The cake is served as breakfast for the wake observed seven days after a funeral, and also on Christmas mornings. It remains an important part of Kochi’s culinary history.