The end of autumn also sees the end of the biggest Festival in Kolkata – Durga Puja. With winter setting in, its time for Kali Puja/Diwali, but when in Kolkata, the disappearing sounds of the Dakhis’ almost overlaps the faint sound of the Christmas bells.
We were on brief hiatus on attending food events for personal reasons, but this was one event which we could not let go off. The mise en place for the cakes that get baked and served for Christmas starts from now on.
There is history in every corner of The Lalit Great Eastern Bakery and we love coming back on any given opportunity.
Cake mixing ceremony consists of soaking of several dry fruits and nuts in liquor, fruit juices and rum for several days and sometimes, months in advance.
The dry fruits plump up in the liquor and also it helps in enhancing the texture of the cake. The different flavours from the different alcohol gives a more robust aroma by the end of the soaking period. Over days they are carefully kept in ceramic or glass containers and almost nurtured and taken care of like a baby. The cake remains moist and even though, there is a lot of sweetness due to the various fruits and nuts, the bitterness from the alcohol and the orange rind, balances the flavour. Like a perfect preamble to Christmas, this tradition encourages the feeling of brotherhood when people from in and around get together and help in mixing the dry fruits in different spirits.
The Lalit Great Eastern hotel was originally a bakery in the name of Wilsons Bakery, so a certain age group in Kolkata still gets nostalgic when it comes to cakes and bakery products from this place. There is a very interesting story about when The Lalit Great Eastern had reopened in 2013 –
After the soft launch on Nov 2013, they decided to open the bakery on christmas of 2013 and on the first day, the first person stood at the queue outside the bakery from 7.30 AM in the morning waiting for his share of cake. The queue lengthened and by 9PM, when the bakery opened there were at least a 100 people in the line. The staff and GM treated everyone with cookies and refreshments and had to assure that everyone will get atleast 1 cake. That night, the entire bakery team did not sleep and production was enhanced, anticipating more rush in the coming days. Kolkata had got its cake and nostalgia back .
Read – The history of The Lalit Great Eastern Bakery
The amount and variety of alcohol almost made the atmosphere intoxicating and the wait soon ended when we started the proceedings, there was a little spin with a sheepish smile thrown in by Executive Chef Madhumita Mohanta. There were prizes for guests who could find hidden coins in the mixing trays. After the alcohol was poured in, the mixing started. Precautionary gloves and head caps gave a different look altogether for all the participants.
Some were lucky to get the coins early, while some including Madhushree kept on mixing till eternity to an extent the fruits were getting squashed (well, not really since these were dry fruits, but you get the idea).
The event was followed by a high tea and The Lalit Great Eastern which was as usual a gala affair with choicest of classics, some fusion and traditional Indian snacks on the offering.
The excellent evening till now turned to awesome with a foodie chat with doyen of Bengali cuisine Rakhi Purnima Dasgupta and performing artist Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee. More coming up on that soon.
The wait just got more exciting till such time we devour these cakes during Christmas. Will you join us ? Leaving you with some more pictures of the event