Dotivala Bakers & Confectioners

During their in reign India, the Dutch established in Surat a warehouse on Dutch Road, in which five parsee gentlemen were employed to make breads. When the Dutch left India at the end of their rule they handed over their ovens to one of our ancestors Mr. Faramji Pestonji Dotivala. Faramji continued to supply breads to the remaining colonials.

As time went by, the business went slack and the breads were left unsold. Bread dough in those days was fermented with toddy (sap of palm tree) so it would not spoil for considerable amount of time. However the breads would become dry due to loss of moisture. The leftover dried breads were sold cheap, which gained considerable popularity due to their lightness and crispy texture. The demand increased so the breads had to be dried in the ovens specially to achieve the desired dryness and texture. They were also shaped differently. Even today these biscuits are made and are very popular, and are known as Irani biscuits.

Doctors used to recommend these biscuits to the patients and hence the popularity of those biscuits increased. They were low in calorie value and were easily digestible. Once the patients regained their strength the doctors advised them to eat biscuits with fat so the biscuits were made using excess shortening. These biscuits are today known as the famous Farmasu Surti Batasa or Butter Biscuits. In those days the locals used to make a sweet called "Dal". Our ancestors baked the "Dal" and the now famous Nankhatai was invented.

Due to the unavailability of the modern day margarine, pure ghee was used. This was available from local villages and used to come in leather containers. There were no flour mills in those days and hence the wheat had to be kept in big wooden store rooms sealed with cow dung to avoid germs and was milled in house on manual grinding stones (hand chaks) by ladies. The flour obtained was not refined flour. The coarse flour was sieved through muslin to separate the germ and bran. Refined flour and semolina were obtained.

When India got independence, prohibition was introduced in the state of Gujarat. The use of toddy was banned since it was alcoholic in nature. We then had to use a fermenting agent made of hops and potatoes. This served the purpose of fermentation but the taste and the texture obtained from toddy was lost.

At that time there used to be three bakeries in Surat owned by the parsees. Others started bakeries later by giving bigger incentives to our trained men. The number of bakeries soon multiplied and our monopoly was lost. Being the pioneers of this industry we have survived over two centuries and six generations due to our emphasis on high production standards and excellent quality and long term straight forward dealings.

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