The sweet memories of a ‘distinctly Goan’ taste

Not just children, even most adults, these days, are not aware of what a ‘panke’ is,” says Anand Gangaram Naik, who takes pride that his is one of the very few bakeries that still sells the traditional local sweet delicacy in the whole of Mapusa, or perhaps even Goa.

Panke, which looks like a cupcake, is prepared from wheat flour or rava, grated coconut, white jaggery, ginger paste, white sesame seeds (til) and a little bit of yeast. These items need to be mixed properly and left overnight. Next morning, it is put in a clean mould, which is greased with oil, and baked in an oven (mostly wood-fired ovens), which takes about 45 minutes.

While some from the older generation fondly remember panke as one of the few sweet items available then, it is unheard of to many today.

Heritage promoter Sanjeev Sardesai says, “I love panke as it has a taste that is distinctly Goan. Every time I go to Mapusa, I buy it from a sweet mart there because it brings back memories of the Goa as it used to be.”

Girish Kenny, owner of a popular sweet mart in Mapusa, says, “Though we don’t make much profit from these items, we continue to make them because of the smile that it brings to the faces of some people. We have been making pankes at our shop for the last 70-80 years, since pre-Liberation times. It used to be one of the very few sweet items that were available then, when people here did not know about candies, like toffees.”

While it is a long history of panke-making for the Kennys, sweet mart and bakery owner, Anand, too, has a story to tell about panke. “We have been preparing this item since 1984. Then my dad used to make it and I learnt it from him. I used to study the exact proportion in which he mixed the ingredients. He always did the mixing himself, as that is the most important part of preparing a panke,” says Anand.

Siddesh Lad, whose family runs a bakery in Bicholim for the last 50 years, says, “Maybe, because the preparation has to be done manually and takes a lot of time and labour, a lot of bakeries have stopped preparing it.”

Despite the panke losing its status as one of most-loved sweets, all is not lost. Lad says that during Navratri, pankes are distributed in local temples. “In fact, sometimes, we get orders from the secretariat too when the assembly session is on. Pankes are part of the tea snacks menu for the MLAs,” he says, adding that there is also a demand among diabetics. [TOI]