It is the tradition of malayalees that they accept any new ideas coming from overseas wholeheartedly extending both their hands. They have shown courage to experiment even in their food habits adapting to new styles. Instead of the traditional puttu, idli and dosa, many of them have brought bread and jam to the breakfast table. Instead of serving the traditional ‘palada pradaman’ for the birthday parties, the practice of cake cutting is widely adopted.
The credit of introducing a new variety of food item into the inventory of tastes of Malayalee goes to Mambally Bakery in Thalassery. The bakery started Mambally Bapu at Thalassery in 1880 have grown into become a Bakery establishment with its roots all over Kerala now.
It was in 1880, the period when no one dared to speak a word against the wishes of the British. On the Chistmas evening in 1880, a guest came to their biscuit factory at Thalassery. It was Mr. Bown, a British planter from the cinnamon plantation at Randu Thara in Ancharakkandy. He came with a piece of cake and asked Bappu to prepare similar one.
Bapu was seeing the cake for the first time. He had no idea of about its ingredients. The English man told him about the ingredients. Within a short time, Bapu’s culinary skills did its wonders. When the English man left the Royal biscuits shop he had given orders for a dozen cakes.
Malayalis tasted the sweetness of cakes for the first time from, the Mambally’s Royal Biscuit Factory, the first bakery establishment in Kerala.
It was Mambally Bappu’s eldest son Gopalan who started Modern bakery at ‘Mittai Street’ at Kozhikode.
Mambally Family took the bakery business further from Kozhikode to Thiruvithamkoor. M.P. Karunakaran, cousin of Mambally Gopalan and brother in law Kanari jointly started Cochin Bakery at Canon shed road in 1939. Though there were some bakeries at Cochin on those days, the bakery items were not popular among the people of Cochin. Cochin Bakery however transformed the food styles of the people in Cochin. On those days, Cochin Raja’s car which came to Ernakulam for collecting ‘The Hindu’ news paper used to return with bread bought from Cochin Bakery.
Even from the Palace of Mysore King, people were sent to bring bakery items from Cochin Bakery. There is no need of searching for several testimonies to highlight the fame Thalassery secured in the field of Bakery art. The King of Cochin used to instruct that the items made out of fine quality flour rationed out to the Bakery should be reserved for their exclusive use. They used to receive orders from France for supply of breads aboard before the French Ships set out their journey to Cochin.
There were no star hotels in Cochin on those days and the owners of Cochin Bakery therefore got the honour of conducting parties for three Viceroys including Lord Mountbatten.
In 1940s Kanari reached Trivandrum with the fame of Thalassery bakery. He started the ‘Santha’ Bakery at Pulimoodu Junction. Later it was handed over to M.P. Krishnan, son of Mamballi Gopalan.
The fame of Thalassery bakery thereafter reached Nagarcoil. Here the bakery is still operating under the name Tops Bakery.
Thereafter they started Best Bakery at Kottayam on 15th November 1944. Thereafter establishments were opened at Changanassery, Thiruvalla, Chengannur under the brand name Best Bakery. The last bakery in the chain of bakeries was established at Kannur, near the railway station which completed a full circle in the long journey of establishing bakeries by the Mamballi’s.
Mambally’s were very much particular about the quality of their Bakery products. These people from Thalassery however, did not attempt to produce their products in large numbers and commercially distribute under their brand name which finally resulted in gradual loss of their fame in this modern world.