Patissiers Nayantara Thomas and Farah Shroff are catering some of the most scrumptious desserts to pastry lovers at Parisserie India.
Pâtissiere duo Nayantara Thomas and Farah Shroff are living their dream at Parisserie India, their Paris-inspired cloud kitchen in the heart of Bay City, where they conjure up a range of classic French entremets, pastry and desserts with a contemporary twist. The journey of Parisserie began when the two set out on their individual paths to learn about baking pastry, with Nayantara heading to the iconic French culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, and Farah picking up the craft at the top-notch Ferrandi culinary institute. When they returned to Mumbai they knew they had to get together to bring French pastry to discerning Mumbai gourmets. Early mornings, the duo are already in the kitchen prepping for the goodies that they will pop into the oven; most days the order book is full of requests for their signature dishes such as Noissette, a creamy hazelnut mousseline, chocolate creme and crispy hazelnut feuilletineon a crunchy dacquoise base or the Framboisee, a flourless chocolate cake, raspberry curd and a tangy raspberry chocolate mousse.
“We never imagined when we started out with our idea of presenting hand crafted desserts, presented as Art On A Plate, that it would find so many takers,” says Farah. “We wanted to bring the finesse and sophistication of the French baking style-simple, elegant, fresh and indulgent, to pastry lovers,” adds Nayantara. What makes their story intriguing and sweet is that they started off in completely differently fields: while Nayantara is a Bachelor of Mass Media from Mumbai’s Sophia College, Farah is a Chartered Account by training. Farah felt a nagging restlessness while she worked at a leading chartered accountancy firm. “I have forever been excited by baking but settled for a stable career that, strangely, left me feeling empty.” Nayantara’s passionate dessert-loving streak led her to Le Cordon Bleu. “It was a total eye opener, a different world where I learnt that pastry was an art and a science. On Day One our lecturer had us on dip our fingers into icy cold water and then into a bubbling pan of sugar, just so that we learnt what happens to sugar at different stages of heating by simply touching it.”
She also learnt about patissiers by meeting up with renowned names. “At New York I waited in queue just so that I could get at least one of iconic chef Dominique Ansel’s famed Cronuts. Later, I had the good fortune of chatting with him over breakfast at the back of his café and was blown away when he told me that the only way to survive and thrive in this space is with complete commitment and deep humility.” Farah’s stint in Paris led her to the double treat: working in the Michelin-star Guy Savoy restaurant in Paris and in pastry shops led by renowned chefs Theirry Bamas and Fredric Cassel. “I learnt about consistently plating gorgeous desserts at Guy Savoy and to run a pastry shop with limited man power working in the cafes of Bamas and Cassel.”
At Parisserie the duo quickly realised that Mumbai’s intense heat and extremely humid conditions renders the most perfected recipes ineffective sometimes, especially with macrons and croissants. Also, not all of the ingredients in the French recipes are available and effective in Indian conditions. After months of trials they now have recipes and local ingredients that work well and they currently work with a variety of exotic ingredients: hazelnut, raspberries, blueberries, imported rich dark chocolate, salted caramel, among others. Also in their repertoire are cakes and entremets for vegans and those with gluten and lactose intolerance.
Already, business is brisk with endless orders for their cakes, entremets and gourmet chocolates from a variety of sources including bachelorettes, weddings, baby showers and return gifts for special events. Bollywood’s denizens with sugar cravings sometimes reach out to Parisserie when they want to treat themselves. Business is good, but not a cakewalk though because using quality ingredients renders their margins wafer thin. Plus, high employee churn often means they do everything from cleaning the vessels to making gourmet cakes. They also know that their job is over only when an order is delivered to the client. A delivery person recently dropped a milestone birthday cake at the client’s doorstep. “Our superwomen avtaars kicked in and we worked like two robots to prepare another cake to replace the ruined one,” Nayantara recalls. Life is not a party for a pastry chef. When the world is partying we are at work ensuring quality cakes are delivered to clients,” she adds. “But we still love the high that we experience when that perfect product comes out of the oven, to be loved, admired and eaten,” Farah concludes.
Almond and Cinnamon Loaf
80 gm butter
80 gm caster sugar
80 gm eggs
30 gm almond powder
50 gm flour
5 gm baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1½ tbsp milk
Handful of chopped almonds to sprinkle over
Sieve the flour, almond flour, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Slowly whisk in the eggs to the mix, a bit at a time.
If the mixture starts to curdle or split, add a spoonful of your sieved flour.
Keep on adding the eggs, and a bit of flour if necessary, until all the eggs are added. Fold in the remaining flour mixture and milk alternately till it is well incorporated.
Pour into a 300 gm greased loaf tin, sprinkle some chopped almonds on the top and bake at 1800 C for 25-30 minutes. Insert a skewer into the middle of the loaf and if it comes out clean, it’s ready!