Dotivala of Surat
Where the cookie doesn’t crumble
Surat is well-known as the city of silks, satins, brocades and diamonds, but together with textiles and jewellery, few leave the city without buying a box of nankathai, khari and butter biscuits. These confections are the legacy of the Parsee baker families who learnt the art of baking when the port city of Surat was the thriving centre of British, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Persian and Armenian mercantile colonies.
Jamshed Dotivala, the owner of Dotivala Bakers and Confectioners says, “Nanpura in Surat district held the 18th century Dutch Warf, the Dutch Commodore’s bungalow and the Dutch factory, a self-contained residential complex for Dutch factors or merchants. The Dutch employed five Parsee men to work in their kitchens. They learnt to bake bread. Surat’s famous muslin cloth was used as the flour sieve and the dough was made without any water. The dough was fermented with palm wine called toddy, causing the dough to rise and making the bread soft when prepared. These breads were also long-lasting. When the Dutch factory was closed in the 18th century, one of the Parsee bakers named Faramji Pestonji Dotivala continued to supply breads to the remaining colonials. We are his descendants and we are proud of the heritage of our bakery business.”
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