Sweet Delights: 8 Homegrown Dessert Brands Launched During The Pandemic

Sweet Delights: 8 Homegrown Dessert Brands Launched During The Pandemic

Six months into the lockdown, most of us have become disoriented with our locked-up lives and the way forward.

Reconciling with a new reality that is here to stay, has made us overwhelmed, and sometimes craving for intimate connections and friendships. Even though most of our mornings are spent working, come evening, we don’t really know what to do. At the fag end of bingeing on Netflix and being drowned into Zoom calls, is a realisation that nothing can provide a better sense of happiness than creating something on our own. A willingness to devote our time and attention to something in a focused manner seems to be the only thing that can help evade the sense of loneliness that pervades our day-to-day lives right now.

One such involvement is cooking, which many of us have taken to in the lockdown. Most of us have tried to whip up exotic dishes for the first time, because why not! Whilst sometimes we have failed miserably, at other times, we have been able to make some of the best goodies that one can imagine. But not many of us have been so good as to be able to scale it up professionally. This was done only by a few superbly brilliant chefs who took the opportunity of having to stay put at their homes into a breeding ground for innovation. From French pastries to Rasmalai, tiramisu to chocolate cakes, they have whipped it up all with passion and dedication.

We introduce to you some of the best homegrown food businesses (started during the pandemic) which have cooked up a storm to satisfy your sweet tooth during those lonely evenings when you are craving for something more!

I. Taramisu

A photographer practising in Mumbai, Tara Louise McManus had come to her hometown in Bangalore to celebrate her mother’s birthday, but the temporary vacation turned into a prolonged stay at home after the nationwide lockdown was called due to a drastic spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. Having lots of free time in her hands, Tara started experimenting with cooking different kinds of food, both in order to extend a helping hand to her mother, as well as to reignite her own passion for the same. She got her own oven and started baking for her friends who lived nearby. Once the lockdown was relatively relaxed, she started promoting her homegrown initiative, which she calls Taramisu. Speaking about her challenges in building up the business, she says, “I literally, up until recently, was doing everything by myself. Now I have some help with the prep work, which is the most important.” Taramisu specialises in healthy alternatives to conventional bakery items by infusing their products with specific nutrients and dietary requirements.

You can find them here.

II. Hungry Panda

A lawyer-turned-business intelligence consultant, Arnab Ghosh, quit his job to start a food truck business in Mumbai last November. But due to the pandemic, the business fell through and he had to return to his hometown in Kolkata. This is when he started using his culinary skills to create a unique keto diet for his customers. His business caters to all kinds of needs – from cakes to cookies to specific food for people with certain allergic symptoms, a one-of-a-kind in Kolkata. As a fan of keto diet himself, Arnab had always made keto dishes and desserts for himself. When he started posting photos of his dishes on Instagram, his friends started asking him to whip up something for them too. Now he is making 7-8 cakes a day, along with many other goodies and baked items. He confides that the logistics part of the business has been hard to deal with, especially because of the pandemic, but he is happy with the way it took off.

You can find them here.

III. Cafe Chai Coffee

An architect by profession, Sneha Bhandare had always loved cooking and making various meals for her friends and family. She moved to Goa after her marriage, and started working alongside her husband in the family business while raising her three children. But it was only recently a few months into the lockdown, that she started thinking about building her own bakery from scratch. As someone who had always loved cooking, the lockdown was the ideal opportunity for her to explore what she always wanted to. She started cooking again, and got an overwhelmingly positive response after sharing the photos online. Orders started coming in, and slowly and steadily she got the motivation to take it to the next level, and give wings to her venture. Thus was born their cafe, Cafe Chai Coffee. Initialy starting with cakes and calzones, she began whipping up various meals and recipes for her family, eventually building a homemade menu to include a lot of other recipes. Three months down, they now have a professional kitchen and a brilliantly diverse menu, which include take-away meals like baos and burgers, as well as delicious baked breads and muffins and a range of desserts. Sneha is excited to see her business flourishing during the pandemic, and plans to scale it up its operations soon.

“Starting something new when we were in a lockdown seemed like a challenge in itself! I had to be extremely careful about hygiene during the lockdown. Getting the ingredients seemed challenging at first but I found a way to order things and a way to clean all my packages. Initially, I was quite scared, but it worked out fine in the end”

You can find them here.

IV. Crumble and Flake

For Kolkata-based entrepreneur, Anupama Chaudhuri, baking is therapeutic. She had loved it from a young age, and would often bake for her friends and acquaintances. However, after the lockdown came into effect, she found a great demand for custom-made cakes and cookies for special occasions among her friends, and therefore, decided to begin a small home business for the same. She realised that not everyone trusted the cafes and restaurants in maintaining proper hygiene, and would rather prefer getting their baked goods from someone they knew and trusted. Thus, Crumble & Flakes was born.

Since the nation is under intermittent lockdowns every now and then, she has relied on online shopping to buy the raw materials and baking equipments. Hence, getting equipments in larger quantities had not been possible. Therefore, she prefers to stick to dry baked items for now, since frosted cakes are very delicate and need different equipments for being made.

You can find them here.

V. Satou

Niki Mediratta’s baking studio, Satou is a passion-driven project formed out of her love for desserts and baked goodies. However, she couldn’t indulge in experimenting with them as much as she would have loved to, because of developing an allergy to the ingredients used in them. This is what drove her to start reading and learning more about what actually went into the making of these products. In the process, she realised that there were certain ingredients being used in those products, which could be responsible for the development of allergies in some people. Satou was made in order to bring a sense of awareness into the kind of products used, so as to create a safer and healthier option for lovers of baked goods. It also aims to infuse an artistic element in baking so as to give its customers something unique and exotic. One of the challenges she faced was having the kitchen to herself, since baking is a very temperature-sensitive craft, necessitating an optimum environment. Since dividing kitchen time with everyone was quite a struggle, she used to be up baking until 4 pm on most days, since that was the only time she got the kitchen completely to herself. Sourcing the right packaging and raw materials was another struggle she faced during the pandemic, due to most shops being closed, and travel being impeded on account of intermittent lockdowns. However, she ascertains that she will not compromise with the brand ethos no matter how difficult it is to get going during the pandemic.

You can find them here.

VI. Purplicious cupcakes

Amanda Fernandes had always loved the craft of making things with her hands, whether it be a picture, a tattoo, or well, cakes! Growing up, she used to watch a lot of travel shows, in which whipping up exotic baked items was a routine in the culinary escapades. Shows like ‘the ultimate cake off’ and ‘nigella’ were her absolute favourite ones. Not having seen anybody in her family bake cakes, she was overwhelmed by the exotic masterpieces made with fondant.

It was not until a friend’s mother encouraged her to try her hand at baking, that she decided to buy her first cupcake pan and give it a shot. She took help from YouTube tutorials to learn the nitty gritty of baking, and spent most of her money from the day job in buying the paraphernalia. Eventually, as the company she worked for downsized its workforce, she was, for the first time, left with enough time to start baking fulltime. The pandemic indeed made it a bit difficult for her to procure the ingredients and ensure safe deliveries, but she took it upon herself to do both, and thus her venture, Purplicious Cupcakes was born. There has been no stopping her since.

You can find them here.

VII. Prajakta

Prajakta Jain, a pastry chef hailing from Mumbai, quit her job at a leading consulting firm in 2015, and moved to Gurgaon to pursue her new-found passion of baking. She completed an Advanced Diploma in French Pastry and Baking, and spent her initial days training at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, before going on work at the Bastion in Mumbai. For the past one year, she had been working as the R&D Sous Chef - Pastry for Bastian, One Street and Dirty Buns restaurants up until the lockdown, where she had the opportunity to collaborate with chefs from different backgrounds, making it a very rewarding experience.

Having tried a few different cuisines – from French Pastry to American Desserts – she realised that she loved playing around with flavours and developing new recipes. Currently, she is making cakes customised along client preferences with regard to taste and design, and enjoying herself whilst doing so. She thought the lockdown was the right time to dive into something that she had wanted to do for ages, but didn’t get the time to. She also realised that people needed something to be happy about during these trying times, so what was better than to devour a comforting cake or pie !

However, she did face her fair share of struggles during the lockdown, with ensuring a safe delivery service for longer distances topping the list. Curating cakes in terms of conceptualization and costing had also been challenging, “but what hasn’t been?” she utters, unfazed.

You can find them here.

VIII. Raamalai

Mumbai-based entrepreneur, Divvya Mehra, had always wanted to be independent, and has motivated both her daughters to do the same. However, due to the responsibilities of an early marriage, she wasn’t able to complete her education. As someone with a creative bent of mind, she has been interested in both jewellery designing and cooking, but was never confident enough to take up either of them professionally. During the lockdown, she used her creativity in the kitchen to whip up some amazing food, especially desserts. She started making rasmalai for her family and friends, experimenting with different flavours like Tiramisu, Panacotta, Chocolate Matcha, Yuzu and Lotus Biscoff, apart from the basic ones. She uses natural ingredients, and refrains from using added food colorings. Thus began Raamalaai, a business venture endorsing a certain home-made elegance and minimalism, adding to our sweet gastronomic delights. The lockdown has been pretty smooth-sailing for their business, and inconveniences faced were minimal. Going forward, she also intends to look into making phirnis with different flavours.

You can find them here.

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