KANNUR: Whenever jingle bells chime, the people of Thalassery can’t help but fondly recall Mambally Bapu, the man who arguably baked the first Christmas cake in India in 1883.Mambally Ranjith, a member of the family and the owner of Brownnies Bakery in Kannur, remembers the story of the first Christmas cake, of course with oodles of pride.
“Since returning from Burma, where Bapu had mastered the art of biscuit making, he started a biscuit company in Thalassery,” recalls Ranjith. “One day, Murdoch Brown, a cinnamon planter, approached Bapu and requested him to make a Christmas cake. And he taught Bapu the recipe. Bapu asked Brown to give him 10 days’ time. And on December 23, Bapu baked the cake and gave it to Brown, who was astonished by the quality of the final product. I think, that was the first Christmas cake made in India.”
Since then, Kannur district in general and Thalassery in particular have remained trendsetters in the cake industry.
Unrivalled in the art of baking cakes, the descendants of the Mambally family went on to start successful bakery chains in different parts of the state such as KR Bakes, Cochin Bakery and Best Bakery.
No wonder then that when Thalassery becomes a topic of conversation, everybody starts talking about the three Cs that made the town popular: cakes, circus and cricket.