Vishu Rita Krocha
Kohima | December 14
Closely following her mother’s instructions, Mhabeni Ngullie baked her first cake while she was studying in class 6 in Kohima. “Coming from a family of bakers, it was hard to ignore and I was really curious. But when I first tried my hands on it, we didn’t even have an oven. It was from the fireplace using sand, a double boiler and a big pot,” she recollects.
“My first cake was obviously uncooked,” she states in between peals of laughter while putting across that “the thing is I was so curious that I kept opening the lid to see if it was rising or not.” Having developed such curiosity and interest for baking at a young age, she has gone on to pursue baking with vigour without any formal training.
A testimony to this fact is her recent participation in India’s first baking reality show organised by Greed Goddess under the banner “Alpenliebe Juzt Jelly Bakers' Studio” wherein 15 bakers were selected from across the country for the final round.
36-year-old Mhabeni Ngullie was further adjudged as one of the top 5 winners and received a professional kitchen baking setup worth Rs 5 lakh from Alpenliebe Juzt Jelly. With this, she is being recognised as one of the country’s next Master Baker and will also be “Alpenliebe Juzt Jelly Chef Ambassador” for a period of one year.
The show was shot at Jaipur Zee Studio, for which she also travelled to Jaipur earlier in October. Interestingly, apart from baking, she currently works as a district accounts manager at Chief Medical Officer Office, Dimapur. “I can’t say I am baking fulltime because I work here and bake mostly during my free time,” she says.
“Initially it was just for friends and family members. I would hand out cakes and desserts, and eventually I started getting orders. Being an amateur baker, and someone who doesn’t any formal training, you also tend to doubt your capabilities, and I didn’t have the heart to advertise full on,” she puts across.
However, baking was a familiar occupation for her since childhood as she grew up surrounded by bakers beginning with her mother, her aunts and their daughters, who would bake for every occasion. That was the time she also developed her curiosity and passion for baking. “I was really curious as a child. This thing has been there since childhood and if I tasted something that I really liked, I would think about the ingredients, the flavour, or how it was made…I would just think about it the whole night,” she says.
Ngullie also says that she does not have a ‘normal menu’ like red velvet or black forest, which are popular in the market. “I try not to follow that but anything that is seasonal or even try new recipes. I try to make my own caramel sauce, and use that for my cakes or desserts, I just buy fresh local fruits as much as I can for layering of cakes instead of using the readymade ones,” she articulates.
She further confesses that “these recipes are so close to my heart because I developed them after many trials and errors. I come up with some of them by watching a lot of videos and practice. For one recipe alone, I would watch at least 10 videos and then pick the dos and don’ts and develop my own recipes,” she expresses.
On the use of local fruits and ingredients, she says that “we don’t get all the berries that are normally used for cakes but we can substitute it so much better with what is locally available.” Food, for her has been part of her ever since she can remember even as she confesses that “I can’t imagine not doing this, even if it gets really tiring sometimes.”
Mhabeni Ngullie is also on the Instagram social networking service as evao.ngullie.