A lasting impression

  • By Hindu
  • | Thursday | 12th October, 2017

Even the traditional blocks used for block printing, I hear are often used by chefs to make mithai. But they lack the imagination and creativity of the wooden moulds that would often have designs inspired by historial monuments and events. They’re all made using special wooden moulds. For a standard-sized sandesh, moulds are available off the shelf. Unfortunately, our traditional shapes have not been extended to handmade chocolates.

For die hard bakers and professionals springerle cooking moulds and rolling pins are prized possessions. Think speculaas from The Netherlands and mamul and krombe cookies from the Middle East. They’re all made using special wooden moulds. Even butter moulds hold a special place in history.

Carefully designed by artistes who specialise in them, these moulds are integral in most kitchens. Made of wood, they are carved to perfection by hand. Ardent food enthusiasts vie with each other to collect them. Even here in India, moulds are essential to shape the myriad sweets that make an appearance during the festive season. The only difference? Here they are relegated to the back burner, with little thought being paid to the beautiful hand carved, embossed pieces in wood.

While recipes for Indian sweets abound, the same cannot be said about the sellers and makers of these pretty moulds. To suit modern day convenience, plastic and silicone moulds have edged out the more traditional ones. But they lack the imagination and creativity of the wooden moulds that would often have designs inspired by historial monuments and events.

But the fact remains that each hand moulded sweet bears a personal touch. A design imprinted on it or an unusual shape adds to its visual appeal. A mould can work its magic on a run of the mill sweet giving it a certain pizzazz. Take for instance sandesh. A popular Bengali sweet, it gets its exotic shapes from these moulds.

Tapan Kumar Das, proprietor, Nalin Chandra Das & Sons in Kolkata, who have a 175-year-old tradition of making sandesh, speaks highly of the talented craftsmen who make the moulds they use. He says, “We use only wooden moulds to shape our huge range of sandesh. The moulds are usually made out seasoned wood, which makes them safe to use, hygienic and water resistant. They are easy to clean and uncontaminated. We prefer wooden moulds for their quality. We have over 50 moulds in different shapes and sizes.”

Some of

their more popular moulds are shaped like black currant, sitaphal, mango, strawberry, and gulabpati. Making these moulds is a specialised craft and according to Das are available in various sizes, shapes, designs and thickness. For a standard-sized sandesh, moulds are available off the shelf. For the larger, unusual shapes they are made to order. Unfortunately, our traditional shapes have not been extended to handmade chocolates. Ever think of ambi shaped rum-filled chocolates for Deepavali?

Even the traditional blocks used for block printing, I hear are often used by chefs to make mithai. The blocks do make a difference when used to imprint sweets. A deviation is using it to bake cookies for a subtle yet fun imprint.

Another set of moulds that are very rarely seen are the thekua moulds of Bihar. Thekua is a fried delicacy made during Chhath Puja. The blocks are different, much larger with traditional designs on both sides. They are carved out of solid wood. The sakarai acchu is used to made sugar moulded shapes for Sankranti. Usually shaped like animals and birds, these moulds also lend themselves beautifully to revamp that peda or burfi.

Some of these moulds are passed down generations. While they make for great traditional sweets, this festive season, they can be used to revamp those khoya sweets, burfis, milk cakes, cookies and even chocolates. Simply pop in that cookie dough into a mould before lining your baking tray for fun shaped cookies or make namak paras using block printing blocks for something a bit more jazzy. Stay updated with all the Chennai Latest News headlines here. For more exclusive & live news updates from all around India, stay connected with NYOOOZ.

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