PICS: KIRAN PANDAY
Nothing beats the aroma that welcomes you when you walk into a bakery. The assortment of bread, muffins, croissants, doughnuts, cupcakes, and cookies give out such a warm, sweet and buttery smell it's futile to resist. And given the love of Nepalis for all food, homegrown or otherwise, it's no wonder the imported culture of bakeries is being cultivated in Nepal as well.
The history of bakeries in Nepal is relatively new. Krishna Pauroti (now Krishna Breads), opened in 1948, catering to the elite in Kathmandu. Even up to 30 years ago, it was possible to count the number of bakeries in the Valley on one's fingers. Bread was the main fare in these establishments, while its more fanciful counterparts were yet to appeal to the masses.
Shyam Kakshyapati of Nanglo's Bakery Café recalls that when he first tried his hand at the restaurant business in 1973, it was difficult to find the right buns for his burgers or bread for his sandwiches. "I was actually compelled to open my own bakery in 1982 just to supply my restaurant," he recalls.
City lifestyles are changing, and with this so are eating habits. Bakery items are now sold and consumed alongside the more traditional Indian-style sweets. Bakeries also offer quick ready-to-eat options for those on the move.
The popularity of bakeries has grown further with the belief that many consider baked items a healthier snack choice than typically deep-fried items like samosas and jalebis and heart-stopping rasbaris. Nepalis are also becoming more adventurous as far as bread is concerned. White bread doesn't cut it anymore. Bhumi Sakya of Chakupat's Fuji Bakery says, "People travel and acquire a taste for a variety of breads, and look for it once they come home." Bakers are now free to experiment without worrying overly about whether Nepalis have the palates to take up the challenge.
Nepali bakeries could do much better if ingredients of a higher quality were readily available. Mitu Bhandari of Baluwatar's European Bakery says, "Baking needs a consistency which is missing in the local flour." Given baking is a fairly recent addition to Nepal, the industry would benefit from training schools with intensive bakery courses. That way prospective Nepali bakers won't have to wait for foreign bakers to show them how the cookie crumbles, just like their predecessors waited on tourists and expats to keep the oven going.
Commands the business of this heavily residential area, and sometimes even putting in an order isn't quite enough to get your hands on their bread.
Only marginally more visible than the restaurant upstairs, Fuji is spick and span and has its fans.
So old it looked as though the building might collapse until recently, good old-fashioned Krishna Pauroti has renamed itself and is still going strong.
The grande dame of them all, even if appearances deceive. Bread (wheat, corn, millet, buckwheat), pastries, and yes, there's cheese beyond Yak. Get there early or leave empty.
Higher Ground Bakery
Linked to the Higher Ground Café in Jawalakhel, this bakery employs women at risk and does a nice line in bread, pretty cakes and sandwiches.
The delectable looking doughnuts and cupcakes on offer here are a sweet lover's delight, and what's more, they offer refreshing drinks to go with them.
A perennial favourite for backpackers, Pumpernickel has moved on from its old-world charm (tables under loaded bhogote trees) by expanding indoors
Since it broke away from the older Mabacos, Master Baker has been doing quite well, especially with
its muffins, sandwiches and
Julie's Cakes and Pastries
In addition to the regular breads and cakes, Julie's displays a sinful assortment of Swiss chocolates.
Right outside the Weizen Restaurant, the Bakery fills its racks with an impressive range of cakes, pastries, cookies, chocolates and savouries, European style.
The whole range of baked products and sandwiches, and yes, a restaurant on the side.
One of the original fast-food restaurants of Kathmandu, Nanglo's has expanded into a veritable empire and if you look beyond the momos, you may even eat cake.
Tucked behind the NTC building, Makoo is a much-loved local bakery that has recently expanded into failsafe momos as well.
This old school joint refuses to expand though its hot doughnuts, cheese plaits and patties have a huge fan following. For now, we're happy with the takeaways.
Testimonies of conflict