Internet has been flooding with pictures of sourdough and recipes around it. From top chefs, restaurant owners and bakery professional making artisanal bread and bakery items to amateurs who are just going by the trend and internet sensation, sourdough bread is baking success in Indian culinary scene.
What’s the hype?
Covid-19 pandemic has given birth to many new and innovative food ventures and one of those is Wheaty by renowned restaurateur Varun Tuli. What started as a lockdown hobby has transitioned into a new venture. Tuli who is also MD at Yum Yum Cha started experimenting with bread during the initial weeks of lockdown.
Once the lockdown was lifted, in September 2020, he started Wheaty - a range of all-natural, slow-fermented, high hydration breads. The brand is an online bakery with an ever-evolving menu. One can always discover something new on their website.
“The name wheaty was chosen because of several reasons. Wheat & more is wheaty. The colour of atta is wheaty. It’s a play on VT,” said Tuli who is delivering across Delhi-NCR with orders shipped 12-48 hours after being placed.
Commenting o the same Aavika Chhawchharia, Co-founder Honey & Dough bakery & coffeehouse whose 20 per cent of the customers are still opting for sourdough bread as they think it's a healthier alternative, shared “The growing interest in baking during the lockdown gave people a reason to opt for healthier choices and most of which resulted in creating sourdough breads. The fact that this bread is healthier than conventional bread is not the only reason it’s getting so popular. This renaissance has much to do with social media, especially Instagram."
Right now, #sourdough throws up 13,38979 posts alone on Instagram and to much surprise most of the posts shared are by home chefs and people who have grown their interest of baking during lockdown.
“It takes seven days to make a sourdough starter, and a lifetime of commitment to nurture it. Four ingredients - flour, water, salt & yeast - and the magic of microorganisms literally out of thin air, sets the premise for bread that is gentle on the gut and an excellent metabolism booster,” pointed Aditi Handa of The Baker’s Dozen who has spearheaded the sourdough bread narrative in India since 2013.
Sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic, which means that the fiber in the bread helps feed the “good” bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are important for maintaining a stable, healthy digestive system and lower in gluten than other forms of bread.
A humble entry
Found in many parts of the world, the most authentic and famous Sourdough was introduced in France and Germany. In France, it is called pain de campagne or country bread. Whereas, the baguette was made in the bakeries of Paris after the First World War.
“The only difference between Sourdough bread and the normal bread is in their composition or how they are made. While the regular bread is leavened with packaged yeast, the sourdough is leavened with lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeasts hence this mixture is called a sourdough starter. In addition, sourdough has some special properties that allow it to surpass the nutrition profile of most other types of bread,” added Chhawchharia who believed that artisanal breads are creating a niche in the market due to its properties. And we will see every household opting for this as a healthier choice than the other breads in times to come.
“I still get very upset when I see people thinking of sourdough as gourmet or occasional bread. It’s like saying we eat vanilla ice cream daily and have black currant or chocolate only on occasions,” she mentioned by pointing that when she launched her Kemps Corner store in August 2013 and a customer would walk in and buy a multigrain, she would give them a four grain for free and say - aunty, aap try karo, I know you will love it.” And the results, slowly but surely, showed. The number of units of sourdough sold in the first year – 1000. In five years, 1,00,000. In seven years, 3,00,000!
In 2018, Baker’s Dozen vision expanded into a factory in Kheda, Ahmedabad.
What’s the future?
Most people don’t need much convincing to eat more sourdough bread. The complex flavor, crusty exterior, and airy interior are reason enough. Infact, today’s generation is more conscious about their food intake and at Honey & Dough they received a lot of queries on it which was also one of the reasons they added sourdough to their menu.
“We are ecstatic to launch our eighth standalone restaurant in Gurgaon,” added Chhawchharia who is of the opinion that bakery is still driven by nostalgia and nostalgic bites.
Similarly, Handa, is aiming to build India’s largest D2C bakery brand by expanding to more than 100 own stores & 1000 retail touch points across 25 cities in India (metros, tier-1 and tier-2). “We want to develop a loyal customer clientele preferring our sourdough breads as their daily bread! We are also expecting to generate Rs 20 crore revenue this year, with 10 percent EBITDA,” she concluded.
Hence, we can say that the pandemic has put the spotlight on sourdough bread with home kitchens abuzz with more activity than ever before. Though, sourdough is best enjoyed the traditional way, there are lots to experiment in this segment.