My cheesecake wanderings have taken me from the dusty by lanes of Grant Road station in Mumbai to the more decadent, heart-warming echelons of creamy goodness. My first bite of this delicious, very-popular and many-times-adapted dessert recipe, involved a more humble beginning at a century-old restaurant, B. Merwan & Company at Grant Road. Located very conveniently outside Grant Road station, this cake shop, famous for its other goodies such as the ‘mawa’ cakes, was my pit stop before going to school. Back in 1998, B Merwan’s cheesecakes, made of flaky pastry, sweet and decorated with sugar crystals, crumbled instantaneously on the very first bite. Since their cheesecakes did not contain a hint of cheese, I naturally assumed that all cheesecakes were devoid of cheese. Over the years, each time I sampled some cheesecake, I always asked my parents — Is there any cheese in this cheesecake?
With Theobroma outlets and Moshe’s springing up all over the city, my old-world-charm-reminiscent cheesecake was long forgotten- left behind in the kitchens of the early 20th century bakery.
The extravagant cheesecake and its many soothing interpretations over time have actually evolved from the very first cheesecakes that were believed to have been made in Ancient Greece. Cheesecakes were not a decadent sin but a necessary energy source for Olympic athletes. So essentially, the cheesecakes of today can be proud of their four thousand year old history. The original recipe consisted of only wheat flour, cheese, and honey and is attributed to the genius of Greek writer Athenaeus. Gradually over time, the Romans added their own twist to this gooey dessert. It was finally thanks to the cheesecake’s journey across Europe that the original recipe underwent a radical change — beaten eggs replaced yeast in the recipe. A New York dairy farmer who was trying his luck at making Neufchatel (a crumbly, mould-ripened cheese) ended up with the first cream cheese. This was then purchased years later by Kraft Company and so was born the Philadelphia Cream Cheese — a critical component of most cheesecake recipes.
The New York Style Cheesecake is a favourite across the globe and every restaurant in New York has developed its own version. To stake your claim to this classic favourite, you can stop by at Theobroma outlets in Bandra and Colaba or even Moshe’s. This cheesecake boasts of creamy consistency, with due credit to the sour cream in it. With many more variants of the cheesecake such as the Philadelphia-style cheesecake, the Bulgarian-style cheesecake, the Blueberry Cheesecake existing, you can rest assured that there is, indeed, plenty to chow down. Drizzle some chocolate or add in a dash of Bailey’s and you can create your own variety of cheesecake. A personal favourite of mine is the Blueberry Cheesecake where the gorgeous blend of soft cheese, fresh blueberries, and sugar causes your taste-buds to rejoice at the bursts of flavour and sweet goodness.
A simple creation that has travelled across the globe from Sweden and Poland to Japan and Australia, the cheesecake, is a globally local favourite today. If you want to grab a slice of this scrumptious dessert then stop by at your local cafÃ© or coffee shop.