How did Tamarind Bakery come to be?
We started, that is Kala and I, around 6 years ago in my kitchen in Evergreen with my old gas oven. We would bake around the kids, dogs and cats. I would finish late at night, at 1 or 2 am when everyone was asleep. When we decided to expand, we built a little place next to our community kitchen, so that I am still close to home but not right in the middle of everything. Johnny from Fertile came and built the two wood-fire ovens, together with the kids from TLC.
But before this, I started with a class called Baking English in TLC, which I still facilitate today. The kids discover the English language through the exploring of recipes. They explore grammar, spelling and creative writing. They also examine the nutritional benefits of the recipe, like for the carrot cake, they looked into the vitamins and minerals of a carrot. Whatever they bake they sell in their little tea shop. Right now, they are exploring the concept of gift economy. It is all quite inspiring, follows no predetermined syllabus and whatever they are curious to explore they will dive into.
Later, I was approached by a coffee shop in Auroville to supply them with cookies and cakes and from there it all began…
Have you always been baking?
My mother always had cookies or a cake in the oven, the smell of freshly baked goods is a very nostalgic memory for me. The first “official” order so to speak was a batch of snickerdoodles, the cookies I often made with my mother. In Auroville people often asked me to make birthday cakes for family or friends, and from there it has developed to a more official or professional level. I am still making birthday cakes on order along with the cookies I sell in various places in AV.
What is your favorite?
Tamar asks Kala. The carrot cake. Tamar adds. Yes, many people love our carrot cake. It is very rich and flavorful. We put in lots of spices, it tastes a little like Christmas. My favorite is the oat crunchy granola bar. It is filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruits and to give it a twist we put in some cheeky chocolate. It is really touching to see how our cakes and cookies are appreciated by the local community. We get orders for birthday cakes from people who used to buy these sugary icing cakes in Pondicherry. I try to make it clear that we do home baked cakes without fancy icing, but with quality ingredients and full of taste.
How does Auroville influence the Tamarind Bakery?
First of all, I want my products to be available to Aurovilians and to our guests. For me this is about home. People have asked me 'where do you see your future, how much do you want to expand'… and I am actually not too interested in that. Of course, it will be great if more and more people can enjoy my cookies and cakes but my priority is to supply here in Auroville… homely cakes and cookies full of soul.
I was always on the lookout for what I can offer to Auroville, something of value. I want to offer something of quality rather than producing in big quantities. This is why we made a major shift to use organic ingredients wherever possible. It is great to see how more and more food producers in Auroville are shifting to organic ingredients. There is a lot of interaction in between us and we are coordinating our suppliers.
Can you describe Tamarind Bakery in three words?
Community. Wholesomeness, Connection.