Considering India just celebrated its independence of 70 years from the British Raj, this makes the bakery one of the longest surviving and thriving business in modern day India.
During their reign in India, the Dutch established in Surat a warehouse on Dutch Road, in which five Parsi gentlemen were employed as bakers. When the Dutch left India at the end of their rule they handed over their ovens to one of them, Mr. Faramji Pestonji Dotivala whose descendants over time developed and perfected the Surat biscuit recipes. The Dotivala bakery in Surat continues to this day, making it one of the longest surviving businesses in India.
Cyrus Dotivala and sons, 7th Generation of the world class Dotivala Bakery that was established in Surat in the year 1861, almost 158 years ago, keep it running !!!.
Traditional Surat Biscuits – Khari Biscuit, Nankhatai, Batasa and Wine Biscuits- all Indianised descendants of original products of the old Dutch bakery in colonial-era Surat that was taken over by Parsi Surtis after the Dutch left.
When these gora sahibs also left, there were no takers for Dotivala’s bread. And the bread, which was fermented in toddy for a longer shelf life, soon became dry due to loss of moisture. Dotivala sold it cheaply to the poor.That was when it was first noticed that the bread had developed a light and crisp texture. And because it was low in calorie content, and easily digestible, it was prescribed by doctors to ailing patients.
The demand for Dotivala’s bread grew and soon he took to drying it in his ovens to achieve the desired dryness and texture. He also shaped it differently. This became known as the first Irani biscuits. They are still very popular in Surat.
These biscuits and delicacies are so popular in my home. I make them many times in US for my family and friends. Please see my cookbook for recipes:
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