THE FIRST BAKERY IN MALABAR
The glory of Thalassery is linked to three “c” Cricket, Circus, and Cake. Although the splendour of the first two has dwindled, the sweetness of cake still lingers. It was in November 1880 that “Mambally Bapu” made the first cake in India at Thalassery in his “Mambally Royal Biscuit Factory”founded in 1880.
There was only one bakery other than this in the country then. That was in West Bengal and only catered to the British. Bapu, however, popularized the concept of cakes and British tastes among Malayalis by starting the first bakery in Kerala at Thalassery.
Mambally Bapu, a member of Mambally family, had been to Burma to learn about biscuit making in 19 th century. After a couple of years, he returned to his home town. In the year 1880 or so,Bapu started his “MAMBILLY ROYAL BISCUIT FACTORY at Thalassery which served almost 40 different varieties of biscuits, rusks, breads and buns. The British were their chief patrons. In fact, the bread dough was made by crushing wheat in crude stone grinders and using local toddy for fermenting the dough until the British imported yeast into the country.
As the story goes, in the December of 1883, a British planter, Mr. Brown, who owned a large cinnamon plantation, asked Mambally Bapu to bake him a Christmas cake and shared the recipe with him (Some say Bapu smelled out the ingredients!) The cake turned out to be better than what Mr. Brown expected and he ended up giving a dozen orders before leaving his bakery.
In its hey days, the bakery also used to export their handmade delicacies to Egypt, Mesopotamia and Myanmar. From then on, bakeries sprang up all over Kerala and diversified in their products. Some say that today there are close to 50,000 bakeries in Kerala alone.