The Secret Dessert At Warden Bakery

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One of my strongest memories from school is of the ride home. Our route would take us past Warden Bakery, where my mother would often stop to buy bread and treat my sister and me to their delicious, almost bite-sized chocolate balls. Guarding the white cardboard box the rest of the way home was an art. We had to hold the box firmly to reduce the effects of the inevitable jostling of a Mumbai commute, yet gently because the cardboard was flimsy and we didn’t want to crush the box and the treat inside. Perhaps the most difficult part of all was resisting the temptation to just polish them off in the car.

But once we were home, there was no waiting. The chocolate icing glistened on top of the delicate orbs; the sprinkle of nuts added a slight crunch to the soft dessert that almost melted in your mouth. We were too young to eat them slowly to savour the taste. Two quick bites each and we were reaching for the next one.

I’m older now and able to understand the value of eating a dessert slowly, of appreciating each bite of chocolatey, buttery, sugary goodness.

This was a long time ago, when I didn’t care about the evils of sugar or my metabolism that seems to be slowing daily. Trips to Warden Bakery now are for mainly for bread, not dessert. No matter what time you go there’s a rush of people waiting to be served. Pizza bread for your dinner, rolls to accompany your pasta, dhokla with your afternoon tea, farsan at just about any time…everyone’s waiting with a list of things to buy, and the attendants manage to juggle the orders with a deftness that can only come with years of practice. You can hear the clamour of the kitchen at the back and sometimes glimpse the fires of the ovens as they churn out bread. Nowhere in the midst of this organised chaos can you see the chocolate balls. They’re very rarely on display; it makes me feel like they’re my little secret.

When the attendant has packed my order and asks if I want anything else, I always waver. On days when my willpower is particularly strong I’ll say no, pay my bill and rush to the car most pleased with myself. On other days (and these are more often) I’ll sheepishly ask whether they have any chocolate balls. The answer is always yes, and I always take six. The cardboard box hasn’t changed much, and I still hold it as if I’m guarding a treasure.

The dessert itself has changed a bit since those days of after school treats. For one thing, it’s bigger – not something I’m complaining about. The sprinkling of nuts has been replaced with a dollop of cream and jelly. And the quality, I’m happy to say, has remained stellar. I’m older now and able to understand the value of eating a dessert slowly, of appreciating each bite of chocolatey, buttery, sugary goodness. That all goes out the window, and I devour these in four bites now instead of two. Some things aren’t meant to change.

Warden Bakery, 30 Taj Building Compound, August Kranti Marg, Gowalia Tank Road, Mumbai 400 006. Phone: 022 2387 6558/022 2386 1580