As Kashmiris, we love our bakeries. The tradition has evolved over centuries. From the locally baked sheermal to exotic tarts, bakery forms an essential part of our cuisine. Be it a simple cup of nun chai or Kehva in the morning or an elaborate tea spread in the afternoons, no tea in Kashmir is complete without a spread of variety of bakery to go along. The concept of sipping tea just by itself, unaccompanied by either the bread from the kandur or a variety of bakery assortments, just isn’t the Kaeshur way.
Our love for bakeries stems from thew fact that this tradition has evolved over centuries with people flocking to this earthly paradise from all across the world bringing along varied tastes and recipes. Traditional baked goodies like the sheermal, butter cakes and bakirkhani are freely available but, there are only a few bakeries that cater to these newly acquired tastes. As a bakery enthusiast and an explorer of new tastes, I took it upon myself to look for bakeries that have forayed into catering to our globalised tastes. My explorations in the city took me to a chic bakery outlet that goes by the name of ‘Just Baked’.
Located near Sanat Nagar Chowk, Just Baked is every bakery lover’s paradise. The smell of freshly baked breads and cakes that wafts in from the bakery just as you step into the outlet is sure to send your taste buds into a salivating frenzy.
Started by Mr. Bilal Gani Lone along with his daughter, Ms. Adha Lone in June 2015, the bakery boasts of being pioneers of exotic baked items in Kashmir. According to the manager, Mr. Imtiyaz Ahmad, it took years and years of planning before the actual bakery came into existence. “Mr. Lone had a dream of introducing the locals to baked items from all over the world. The process was a long and tedious one because we didn’t want the focus to be on taste alone. We wanted to give equal attention to hygiene, something very few bakeries consider to be of importance in Kashmir”, says Mr Imtiyaz.
“The quality is what attracts our customers. We have people coming here and saying that ever since they had bakery from our shop, they don’t like bakeries from any other shop”
Although the higher quality of the products is reflected in their prices, the bakery certainly doesn’t believe in compromising on quality. Everything from the counter tops to the packaging material is food grade and spotlessly clean. The equipment used is all high grade and the chefs take extra care of the hygiene by wearing hair nets, aprons and gloves while baking. “The quality is what attracts our customers. We have people coming here and saying that ever since they had bakery from our shop, they don’t like bakeries from any other shop”, says Mr. Imtiyaz. Besides the huge bakery selection, Just Baked is perhaps the only place in Srinagar that makes perfect woodfire Italian pizzas that you can gobble down with an espresso shot or any other drink of your choice. But while the beautifully baked goods displayed in the glass counter may make you want to sit there the entire day and enjoy all the treats one by one, the dearth of space may not allow it. Although the bakery is not crammed like most bakery shops, there are only a few tables where you can sit and enjoy the delicious goodies. If you are looking for some quality bakery, I would highly recommend you visit Just Baked, if not to buy bags full of bakeries then just to indulge in delightful tastes every once a while.
Text: Najwa Shabir
Photos: Faisal Bhat