Memories of Pune

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POONA : Of Broon, Bread and more!

When the Iranis came to Pune from Iran there were only two options in the job market that they could take up that didn’t require educational qualifications. One was becoming an hotelier and the other was becoming a baker. When Salamat Ardeshir Irani came to India he started out as a waiter in Kohinoor Restaurant. In Iran he was a wealthy person who had to let go of his wealth and start from scratch in Pune or Poona as it was known then.

After a couple of years of slogging and saving up he became a partner at the same hotel. No one knows what changed his mind but he discontinued being an hotelier. In 1914 he became a baker and started Royal Bakery. Slogging it out, undeterred at having lost his fortune in Iran, he baked a flourishing one in Pune. Royal bakery on MG Road is his success story.

Old timers remember way back in the 60’s Abdul, an employee of Royal Bakery who would come daily on a bicycle with a steel box on the carrier to deliver fresh bread and broon for almost 40 years.

The entire process of making their bread takes about seven hours and their secret is a wooden vat. The bread dough is kept inside the vat so that it ferments, rendering a distinct taste to the bread because of all the enzymes in action in the dough. This vat is not available nowadays making their bread much sought after.

Among the bakery’s fast selling bread is the milk bread or Milko Vita. Its packaging reads that it is the bread that lasts for 100 hours and keeps you fit for 100 years. It has a trademark registered number of 1291. The Irani family believes that they were not only the first in the city but the first in the country to prepare milk bread that too in the year 1947. This bread is a must try for the Jain population.
Some of the other delicious specialties of this family run bakery include cheese papri, badami biscuit, shrews bury biscuit and ginger biscuit along with plain cakes. Simply relish the melt in the mouth satiation that you experience when you eat the products. It is best to avoid calorie counting. The bhatti or furnace is fired using wood and that too imparts a special aroma to their products.

Royal bakery believes in eating and making little but doing so almost every day. That perhaps explains why their products are freshly prepared. The Irani wit comes into play when we are told that if we want stale stuff, we need to pay double the amount so that they can keep some leftovers for us.

From the beginning, letting their products speak for themselves has been this bakery’s policy. Their walking, talking (and eating) word of mouth customers seem more than happy to spread the aroma of the bakery all over Pune and beyond. So while the Irani family continues to overcome the challenge of finding and employing workers that agree to work in the bakery and that too near the furnace, we continue to deliciously flock here for our daily bread, biscuits and cake.

Books available on Amazon Manna of the 21st Century: Parsi Cuisine Paperback Hardcover Indian Parsi Kitchen Celebrations: Celebrating Zoroastrian Festivals and Traditions Dhansak: Parsi Cuisine

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