It started as a hobby during the COVID-19 lockdown. Professional make-up artist Sonam Dolkar Seth and IIM-Indore graduate Manisha Sangma decided to use their time to try baking some of their favourite Southeast Asian desserts. Friendly cook-offs blossomed into a business venture which has now taken Kolkata by storm. Their bestseller list includes Japanese cheesecake, the Moon Cake, butter cookies, Asian red velvet cake, Taiwanese pineapple cake, Singapore chiffon cakes, a range of eclairs and choux, to name a few. We recently spoke to Sangma about the journey of the bakery which is named after her three-year-old daughter Boma.
You started the business during lockdown, what gave you the confidence to start in that difficult situation?
Doma Wang [the highly regarded Kolkata chef and owner of Blue Poppy restaurant located inside Sikkim House] gave us all the confidence to believe in our products. She loves baked goods, and Sonam (Wang’s daughter) and I would bake various desserts during the lockdown, and she would really encourage us to take it forward.
During lockdown, it was not easy to gauge what customers wanted, handling delivery...how did both of you manage?
Well there was no competition for us when it came to Asian desserts like the Japanese cheesecake or butter cookies because no bakery made any of these. Besides, worldwide Japanese cheesecakes were trending. So we grabbed this opportunity to find our niche. We delivered via Swiggy Genie or asked the customer to collect it from us.
What made you focus on Asian bakery? How difficult/easy was it to source the ingredients? Now, do you source the ingredients locally? Or get them from elsewhere?
Personally we love Asian desserts. And initially, when we gave it to our friends and family everybody appreciated it. We took baby steps from baking at home, testing the market and its response, then going on to being home chefs, to finally taking the leap of going commercial with our products. We both felt there was potential in the market for the same. We sourced all ingredients locally, some of the ingredients we use are imported and are easily available in Kolkata’s old Chinatown.
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Japanese cheesecakes are one of your signature products and very popular. Tell us more about them. How different is it from, say, Philadelphia cheesecakes?
Japanese cheesecakes are light, fluffy, jiggly and has a melt in your mouth effect, whereas the normal Philadelphia/ New York cheesecake is dense, heavier and comes with a crusty base. Also the JCC has fewer calories than the regular ones.
Who handles the recipes, the menus/product plans?
Sonam, Sachiko (Sonam's sibling) and I discuss extensively about the recipes and the menu though it's mainly Sonam and Sachiko who contribute to the menu as they have a lot of knowledge when it comes to food.
Sonam and I run a test batch and Aunty Doma Wang is our main judge. She gives us honest feedback and guides us on what we can do to make it better or just leave it off the menu.
Any new products that you are planning to introduce soon? Do you change/rotate the range of products available?
Actually yes. We have been working on our new product range and we have just launched our new menu today. We do, however, bring in new seasonal items like the strawberry JCC, mango cupcakes, etc. which have really worked for us.
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Are you still on delivery only mode?
We have just tied up with The Blue Poppy Thakali brand and we serve desserts for their dine-in customers. Apart from this, we are available on food delivery apps. Customers can directly place orders on our Instagram page.
Now that life is returning to normal gradually, would you continue with this business or return to your former professions?
We would like to continue.