Shortly after I moved to Bangalore, which was not that long ago, I began this journey of going to coffee shops. It started out as a small venture, to try out this coffee called ‘La Vie En Rose’ at Third Wave Coffee roasters. It had dried rose petals in them, with a pinch of cinnamon in it, I think; an extremely flavourful coffee and I loved it. To be fair, I am not a coffee expert, so I would not really know what I was talking about.
The next time I went to Third Wave, it was not the rose petals that caught my attention. The glass shelf next to the bill counter had this sensually golden-brown pastry, which the French adores, croissant. I mean, you already feel French saying the word. However, it was not the buttery croissant that I wanted, I wanted the chocolate one seated next to it.
Before I get started about these wonderful creations, I would love to get into what a pastry actually is.
Flour, Fat, Salt, Water/Milk
That is pretty much it.
Anything that is made of this mixture is called a pastry, and the other thing I learned over this ‘pastry-obsession’ is that a pastry does not always have to consumed like how a croissant is (puff pastry). It started out its journey as being a container for meat, to keep in the meats’ juices while being cooked. A pastry is meant to compliment what is within it.
This changed the entire idea of what a pastry is to me.
Growing up, I always envisioned it to be-
Now I know better.
Also, fun fact, the concept of ‘pastry’ belongs to Egypt and was carried to Europe by the Muslims; even then croissants were not really of French origin, they were Viennese.
Back to my story.
I ordered these chocolate croissants, and then ordered more in the forthcoming weeks. They were buttery and flaky with a decent amount of air pockets in them and, rich, warm, melted chocolate in every bite. I felt as though I was re-visiting France again since 2019. I loved it, until-
I met this crumbly guy on an app!
I had seen this coffee place (Kingsmen Coffee) on the Swiggy app, but never really in person and so, there was a bit of skepticism while ordering this. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised!
The authentic rectangular shape of the Pain Au Chocolat was carried on by this marvelous delight. The chocolate was fantastic. Although they could only be ordered (which is a big plus, during these times of Covid), they still kept their warmth. The layers were evidently clear and the they were pleasantly light and feathery which meant that the layers would melt in your mouth as you take a bite.
A bigger plus, they make mini–Pains Au Chocolat! Let the word ‘mini’ not confuse anybody, they are still big enough to fit your palm.
Another interesting fact, there has forever been a constant dispute between the south-west and the other regions of France regarding the name of this sugar pastry. The south-westerners called it Chocolatine when everybody called it Pain Au Chocolat.
Now before we take sides, I want to share a little historical detail about this problem maker. When a Viennese baker, August Zang, opened a bakery in Paris, this breakfast meal was called Schokoladencroissant. This was transliterated to Chocolatine, sounds fair? But this name was only limited to certain parts of France and the rest of France called it Pain Au Chocolat (chocolate bread).
So, now going to the south-west of France and asking for a pain au chocolat, would result in you getting some Nutella spread on your bread.
Discovering Kingsmen Coffee did not mean I gave up on Third Wave. One can never really give up on Third Wave and for me it was because of a doughnut; a doughnut that is made only on the weekends.
This doughnut really breaks all the traditional rules about doughnuts. There are no holes in the middle. There are no toppings on it (well, except for granulated sugar). The magic of it, like a pastry, is within.
Need I really say anything about this showstopper? The fact that it was only available on the weekends, made me want it even more! With the oozing chocolate, and the sugar on my fingers, I definitely craved this more than once.
I found this doughnut quite randomly. I usually go to Church Street, Bangalore on Sundays, giving ‘Sundays for Church’ a different route, pun intended. Third Wave had one of their coffee shops here. I took my routinely visit to Blossoms and then walked towards their coffee shop, to see this big guy sitting there amongst the croissants. It looked too wonderful to not get picked up, so I chose him.
There is a slight drawback on this one, he’s not everybody’s cup of tea. You will love it if you are a lover of chocolate, if not skip this one out.
Third Wave really has won a lot of hearts with their beloved
My first rendezvous with this Srilankan spice delight happened at a McDonald’s in Singapore and the dish was called ‘Cinnamon Melts’. It was in a rectangular tin foil container. The dish was everybodys’ favourite at the time. It was mini sized cinnamon buns, topped with warm melted cream cheese. Of course, the quantity of it was perfect where it left you satisfied but greedy for more. Ever since then, I have been loyal to the cinnamon dish and never really tried out anything else, despite Cinnnamon Melts being discontinued.
It was only after I met this exotic Swedish fika pastry at Third Wave, that I remembered how wonderful cinnamon is in a pastry. So wonderful that October 4th of every year is National Cinnamon Bun day (Kanelbullens dag) in Sweden.
Unlike the croissant, who is clear to us now is only pretending to be French, the Éclair appears to be the rightful heir to be the ‘French pastry’.
This ‘little Duchess’ or “pain à la Duchesse” or so it was called until the 19th century, was meant to be ‘eaten in a flash’ and so the name Éclair which translates to lightning. The oblong pastry is piped into the shape and baked until it is hollow inside. The void is filled then by flavoured custard.
I found this French queen at Zed the Baker and as you can guess by now, I picked the chocolate one. However, I was tempted to try out their blueberry, and their pistachio and rose varieties.
This chocolate Éclair, might I dare to say, makes for the perfect chocolate dessert; nothing over the top. This choux pastry is made to perfection, and the subtlety of the chocolate custard, matching the glaze, is really the cherry on top.
The more I looked into it, everything seemed to look a pastry to me. I was curious to know whether India had a version of a pastry. Presenting to you,
(Taken from Wikipedia)
I was beyond ashamed to not recognize this bakery item as a pastry, after all the samosas I had been stuffing myself with since childhood. But once I did, I was proud.
There is really nothing that compares to a Samosa not even another samosa. The spices used in it varies across the country and you can never really find the exact same samosa anywhere else. Which is why it is important to hold your Samosa dealer close.
Despite giving the samosa the title of a pastry, I am not so sure if it fits. Indians call it a snack, and when you grow up eating it during recess and lunch, you end up calling it a snack too. This snack-pastry is usually fried in oil and is accompanied with a Chutney- mint, coriander, tamarind. The fillings inside makes or breaks the snack, but the crust on its own is delicious too as it absorbs the spices and the essence of the veggies inside.
There are great samosa places all around Bangalore, India but the one that I particularly am fond of is actually a sweet shop in BDA shopping complex that sells samosa for Rs. 10/ piece. The price being inevitably the selling point in the expensive city of Bengaluru, I love that the samosa looks the price. It looks homecooked with your basic-aloo filling, but the chutneys compliment this simpleton like no other.
At the end of it all, you simply cannot really hate pastries. As it happens to be, it’s the one dish that’s everywhere!
All photographs taken by Neha Warrier
I went on this venture during the better days of the pandemic, ones that did not belong to a lockdown. However I hope looking at some of the photographs of the pastries gave you something to look forward to.
Stay safe, take care.
I'm obsessed with the illustrations.Well done :))
This is really well written, good job❤