The homely aroma

The homely aroma

The homely aroma

The aromatic fragrance of freshly baked goodies is unmissable for those waiting at the ‘dhobi ghat’ signal in Rajajinagar. Located inconspicuously in a corner, Variar Bakery is the quintessential place for soft, fluffy and mouth-watering puffs and biscuits. In small font, the name ‘O G Variar’ is painted on the walls of the bakery, the only indication of its existence. Yet the bakery sees nearly 1,000 people a day, as word of their products is the talk of the town.

Founded by Govinda Variar from Kerala, the bustling bakery is one of its kind in the locality. It is famous for its ‘khara’ and sweet biscuits, sponge cake which melts in your mouth and plum cake filled with raisins, cashews and other delicious dry fruits.  Started in 1955, the taste and perfection of their baked goods is still kept alive.

Ever since Govinda was a teenager, he wanted to start a business, and would rent ovens in the night to bake biscuits and bread, which he sold early next morning on the Chikkaballapur Highway. In 1955, he came to Bengaluru and started a small bakery in Guttahalli and sold only biscuits. Fifteen years later, the bakery moved to Rajajinagar. And 30 years down the line, the bakery opened its second branch on Chord Road. Today, it is maintained by Vijayashankar Variar, son of Govinda Variar.

The bakery makes a range of biscuits like ‘methi khara’, ‘masala khara’, dry coconut, ginger, coconut, butter, ‘chilli khara’, cashew, sweet and salt, ‘om’, stick, milk and others that are made from the perfect blend of spices. The bakery also sells a range of fresh breads and ‘pav’, and people come early in the morning to enjoy them with their breakfast or as tea time snacks. They have a range of breads like whole-wheat bread, khara bread, tea bun and cherry bun. They also sell a range of cakes like apple cake, fruit cake, plain cake, plum cake, chocolate cream cake and pineapple cream cake. Some of their famous snack items include various puffs, like ‘dil pasand’ or ‘fruit puff’, hard puff and vegetable puffs, twisted ‘kare’, pepper masala ‘kare’, baked nipat, rusk and plain ‘kare’.

Vijayashankar narrates an interesting tale that occurred in 2001, when a young boy visited the ‘dhobi ghat’ branch to taste the  delicious and hot puffs. “The boy asked my dad to serve him a puff and after eating that, he asked for another and another. When he demanded the third one, my father reprimanded him and asked him to go home and eat healthy food. My father always believed that bakery items are only meant as refreshments and should not be considered as food. Although we run a bakery business, we also abide by our ethics, and we do not want our customers to binge on bakery products as they are unhealthy. In the 1970s, people would buy biscuits for 50 or 100 grams but now people buy one or two kilograms, and we advice them to not substitute food with bakery products,” he says.

The fact that it has become a popular bakery is because it uses the freshest of ingredients which are of a high quality. The bakers do not use any kind of colouring or preservatives in their products, which makes it healthy for daily consumption. Such is their popularity that sometimes, especially during festivals, they see more than 3,000 customers a day.  Around 200 employees work here and have mastered the art of baking. Raghu, who has been working here for the past 16 years, says, “The bakery is like our second home. We work like one big family and everyday is a new day as we bake the products for that day’s sale.” 

Ranganath, a regular customer for the past 20 years, reminisces to when he was teenager, and how he would visit the bakery everyday to have the ‘puff’. “The quality and taste have remained the same since the bakery was established. It is a must-visit place for every Bengalurean.”
The bakery is open from 8.30 am to 9 pm. It is located at 12th Main Road, near ESI Hospital, Rajajinagar.