I asked the Manager – Jebastin, if this was a marketing ploy to hide the bakery’s most popular item and arouse customer curiosity; he laughed it off. Another restaurateur in Tuticorin whom I spoke to attributes it to the short shelf life of the Tuticorin Macaroon. It turns soft in quick time unless it’s stored in an airtight container. It’s why most bakeries don’t store them in large cookie jars that are constantly opened and shut through the day.There are quite a few theories in Tuticorin about the origin of the macaroon. Some attribute it to the Colonial connection – Tuticorin was a Portuguese settlement before the Dutch and eventually the British occupied it in the 18th Century. The city has a long heritage of baking; there are probably more bakeries than traditional sweet shops in the city and almost each of these bakeries sells macaroons. It’s one of these bakers who is believed to have learnt the recipe for Macaroons in an apprenticeship with Spencer’s in erstwhile Madras and introduced it to Tuticorin.
The Tuticorin macaroon is crafted with just three ingredients – egg white, sugar and cashew nuts. The cashew is the what sets it apart from the classical French macaroon that uses almond (or almond sugar). The Tuticorin macaroon uses no food colouring and has its own trademark - though not protected by a GI (Geographical Indication) tag, shape. Many bakeries still use wood-fired ovens to bake macaroons. The team at Ganesh bakery like to keep a low profile but told me there’s no secret ingredient; the trick is the manufacturing process. It’s why almost every bakery’s macaroon has a slightly different flavour profile. Some tend to be crunchier because of the excess cashew nut, some tend to be a tad ‘eggy’ that can be a turn off and many bakeries tend to veer towards a sweet version.While some bakers ship the macaroons out of Tuticorin, Ganesh Bakery’s macaroons are only available at one counter. These macaroons could crumble in transit or turn soft if they are not stored right. Most locals agree that Tuticorin macaroons don’t quite taste the same outside Tuticorin. It only adds to the allure of this unique contribution to Tamil Nadu’s rich food scape – a brilliant blend of a western baking technique with cashew. It’s not even fair to compare these macaroons with the quintessential French Macaroon, the Tuticorin Macaroon is in a league of its own and you can have any colour you want as long as it’s white.About the Author:
Ashwin Rajagopalan is a Chennai-based writer who writes on topics related to food, gadgets, trends and travel experiences. He enjoys communicating across cultures and borders in his weekday work avatar as a content and editorial consultant for a global major and one of India's only cross cultural trainers.Disclaimer:The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.