India’s First Cake Baked at Thalassery in 1883

Thalassery in Kerala was where India's first cake was baked in 1883 by Mambally Bakery.

India’s first cake was baked at Kerala’s  Thalassery, formerly called Tellicherry in 1883 during the British regime. Mambally’s “Royal Biscuit Factory”  that made those first cakes is still in the business tickling the pallette of cake lovers over the last 139 years.

The story goes back to the Christmas of 1883 when Murdoch Brown an English man who ran Asia’s largest British  cinnamon plantation then approached the Thalassery baker Mambally Bappu with  a plum cake he had brought from England and asked if the Kerala baker  who then made a variety of biscuits and rusks could bake a cake for Christmas. Murdoch also handed over a few ingredients including raisins, cocoa, dates and raisins besides giving an oral demonstration of baking cakes. He recommended French brandy too, from Mayyazhi, now Mahe. However a creative and talented  Mambally Bappu “sourced choicest of spices from Malabar coast and introduced a Desi flavour by using arrack, a local brew made using apple and Kadazhipalam, a variety of banana” says Renuka Bala, the fifth generation entrepreneur from the Mambilly family who runs the bakery now at Thalassery. She added “The cake, Bappu made worked magic when he presented it to Murdoch who found it “excellent” and ordered a dozen more cakes before Christmas. As the business flourished it also  imprinted Thalassery in the cake map of India. 
Bappu’s  successor Mambally Gopalan took the business to greater heights.  Their  biscuits were sent with Indian troops even to Egypt and Africa during the world wars. There’s a legend that says General Cariappa who tasted these biscuits abroad sent his people to get these biscuits, on his return to Coorg.
 Renuka says “Into the fifth generation we continue to tweak our recipes to suit the changing pallete over the last 142 years. However what keeps our cakes unique is our traditional wood fired ovens that give a distinct and deep flavour”.
Mambally’s Royal Biscuit Factory is now aiming for a national expansion plans. “We are raising funds to establish bakery cafes across the country and to make our cakes available in premium super markets too” explains Renuka. 
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