The rich Colonial History of Kolkata has gifted it some of the best monuments, buildings, churches and tradition of celebrating festivals like Christmas. For any local, irrespective of religion, the short tropical winter means Christmas time and is incomplete without a visit to colorfully decorated Park Street, New Market or Bow Barracks, and a slice of cake from Flurry’s or Nahoum’s. For every Kolkata বাসি, this has been the tradition they have grown with, is being followed now and is there to stay…
Nahoum & Sons (P) Ltd. Confectioners in New Market is a Raj Era Jewish bakery, still operating and spreading happiness through its distinct cakes, pastries, cookies, brownies, macaroons and more. The heritage store was founded by one Jewish settler from Baghdad, Nahoum Israel Mordecai. He came to British Calcutta to test his fate, like many others, and along brought his wonderful baking skills. In 1902 he set up a bakery and started door-to-door sales of baked delights. But his mouth watering creations gained popularity among the British, the Anglo Indian community and of course the locals, who are known for their sweet tooth. Eventually in 1916 Nahoum succeeded in setting up his iconic store in the Sir Stuart Hogg Market of then White Town of Calcutta (now the New Market in Central Kolkata). Thereafter there was no looking back. Nahoum & Sons Confectionery gained popularity among locals and foreigners alike. After Israel’s death in 1964 the helm passed on to his son Elias, then to David Nahoum and since 2013 the bakery and the store is being wonderfully managed by Isaac Nahoum.
Over the last century the once 6,000 strong Jewish community of Kolkata has dwindled to mere double digits but, the Jewish bakery of Nahoum has steadily made its own place in the gastric map of Kolkata and in the heart of every Kolkata বাসি. A tiring shopping trip to New Market is never complete without a fulfilling pastry or patty from Nahoum’s. People travel great distance regularly to re-fill their monthly stock of Brownies and Cookies from Nahoum’s. Those who are fortunate enough to live close-by, swear by the bread made by this bakery. In several households in the city, Anglo or Bengali alike, guests are greeted with a slice of cake from Nahoum’s. But during the Yuletide (Old English term for the period from 21st December to 1st January, spanning 12 days and including the Christmas and New Year), the demand for Fruit Cake, Plum Cake and other cakes form the bakery surpasses demand for its other delicacies.
The store can be reached easily from either Bertram Street entrance (go through second left lane after the central roundabout of the market) or Market Street entrance of New Market (back portion of New Market, beside Aminia). If the location is not knows, one can easily get lost among the maze of shops in New Market! If such is the case, ask for your way. Shop owners in New Market are always eager to help. The simple, maybe a little dull and air cooled shop may look outdated, but it has its own treasures. The teak wood furniture and teller is the same installed in 1916. Even the flooring has not changed since the shop opened its doors for the first time. At any time during the year the shop will be loaded with cakes, pastries, tarts, cookies, macaroons, brownies all from their own bakery. Go in the afternoon if you want to avoid the usual rush of customers and have small chats with the staff, Manager Mr. Banerjee or if you are lucky with Isaac Nahoum himself (we were unlucky as he was dozing on the day we visited the store for our own share of Christmas Plum Cake).
Their cakes stay fresh for at least 1 week without refrigeration (that is what the staff told us), so go sufficiently early for Christmas cake shopping. Otherwise you may get caught in long queue of eager customers. Nahoum family has not experimented with their offerings for long. In fact, it was one of the challenge David Nahoum faced. During his time the popular Malls, Coffee shops, Patisseries of Kolkata popped up, giving his shop a hard competition. But he retained most of his clientele with the unadulterated recipes and distinct taste of his baked offerings. His clientele includes celebrities like Suchitra Sen and Sourav Ganguly. Geoffrey Fisher (5 May 1887 – 15 September 1972) who was Archbishop of Canterbury (Diocese of the Church of England covering Kent region of UK) from 1945 to 1961 is said to have attested Nahoum’s fruit cake as the best.
The price as on winter 2018 is INR 300/- for Rich Plum Cake (400g), INR 250 for Plum Cake (400g) and INR 250/- for Fruit Cake. Fresh sweet buns were flying off the shelf at INR 25/- a piece. Other cakes and pastries range from INR 25-50 for a portion.
Our final verdict is, be it winter or summer, Christmas or Durga Puja, during shopping or at leisure; every time is right time to dig into fresh cake, pastry, patty, brownie, bread or bun or Nahoum’s. The place is rich with taste, flavor as well as history. Next time in Kolkata, don’t forget to visit the store when you come shopping to New Market.
Nahoum and Sons (P) Ltd. Confectioners
Address: F20, Bertram St, New Market, Kolkata-700013
Open from 9 AM to 9 PM every day
Weekly close on Sundays
Contact: (033) 2252 0655
Location on Google Map:
Source: Personal Visit to the store one December ’18 afternoon https://www.thebetterindia.com/94746/nahoums-bakery-new-market-kolkata/ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Nahoums-owner-dies-bakery-lives-on/articleshow/18857336.cms https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/nahoum-s-kolkata-s-last-jewish-bakery-still-rules-foodies-hearts-foodie-tail-kolkata-115093000316_1.html https://homegrown.co.in/article/802598/kolkatas-116-year-old-jewish-bakery-is-the-last-of-its-kind https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Kolkata http://www.jewishcalcutta.in/exhibits/show/business/nahoums