The Nahoum and Sons bakery is one of the last vestige’s of Kolkata’s Jewish heritage – but it still attracts the odd very important patron.
Stepping inside the Nahoum and Sons bakery in South Kolkata is a trip back in time. The legendary confectioner’s shop hasn’t changed much since it first opened 113 years ago; the same teakwood furniture and display cases remain, and the same list of sugary treats based on old family recipes.
Kolkata’s region, Bengal, is known throughout India for its delectable sweets – from rosogolla (spongy milk balls soaked in sugar syrup) to shor bhaja (deep-fried milk cake) to chenna (a moist and crumbly sweetened cow’s cheese), though in a majority-Hindu city it’s unusual that the most popular dessert haven is run by a Jewish family.
But a taste of a rum ball or a slice of lemon tart explains exactly why Nahoum’s has been going for over a century, despite the local Jewish population dwindling to just 20 in recent years.
Between the late 18th and mid-20th centuries, Kolkata was home to a small but significant community of Jews – a consistent 4,000 over that period. Nahoum’s, the city’s last remaining Jewish bakery, is a symbol of this disappearing heritage.
The bakery’s most famous offering is a rich fruitcake. At Christmas queues span three streets to buy it and “our rich fruit cake is internationally known,” says owner Isaac Nahoum.
“The cake used to be supplied to government houses. When Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher came to Kolkata, they served him Nahoum’s fruit cake and he said it was the best fruit cake he had ever eaten.”
Visit Nahoum and Sons: Bertram Street, New Market Area, Taltala, Kolkata, +91 33 6526 9936.