The Kerala Breudher

When I first heard about a dutch-origin bread called breudher available in exactly one bakery in Fort Kochi, I was very intrigued. I noted down the name of the bakery; a very forgettable name, Quality Bakery. On Christmas Eve The Family and I walked down there to look for a loaf of the bread. Business was brisk. A warm bready smell filled the place, and hot bread was selling like, umm, hot cake. It was a while before my turn came. I spent the wait taking photos of the very creamy cakes that they had on display. It turned out that breudher is made only on weekends, or to order. Luckily they could make a single loaf. We paid an advance and agreed to come by the next day at about the same time to pick it up.

Wikipedia notes that breudher (pronounced broo-dhuh) is found in Sri Lanka, Malacca, and Kochi. Digging a little further into this story I found more information in a book on the history of Asian cooking. Charmaine Solomon, who migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka, apparently popularized this bread in her adoptive country in the 1970s. Her father’s family was Dutch, but settled in Sri Lanka in 1714. Her mother’s family was Tamil, but with Irish, Dutch and Goan blood thrown in. Her husband was a Jew from Malacca. Although Wikipedia’s description of breudher as being derived from “a Dutch cake traditionally eaten at New Year” is taken verbatim from one of Solomon’s books, the bread perhaps has a history as convoluted as Solomon’s family.

When I went to pick up my order on the evening of Christmas day, there was no other customer at the bakery. One of the brothers who ran the place (featured photo) disappeared upstairs to bring the bread while the other chatted with me about how bad business had been in the past year. Unfortunately we spoke each other’s languages too badly for me to interview him about how they came by the recipe. The breudher looked like a loaf of plain bread, smelling mildly of spices. I was a little disappointed that it hadn’t been baked in a fancy mold. But all the disappointment vanished when I bit into a slice. The yeasty, spicy, sweet bread was not a taste that I’d encountered before. Do I now have to travel to Sri Lanka and Indonesia to taste their versions of this bread? I wouldn’t mind it at all.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. Now, I wish I had such a kaleidoscopical family background as Solomon! It’d have made for some interesting summer holidays visiting the relatives.

    As much as we can all agree that colonialism brought untold misery to millions, it gave us – occasionally – something decent. Galle fort and this bread being two cases in point. I’ll ask my Dutch colleagues about it!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Colonialism was a policy foisted on people by governments and corporations. This was as selfish and immoral as a profit-making venture could be. Individuals were left to make the best of a changed world, and they did a decent job, as they often do. If history had been totally different we would still have had things to love.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May I correct you on a few points about my family’s history? My Dad was born in Burma into the Baghdad Jewish community. My maternal grandmother wasn’t Tamil, but coincidentally also born in Burma. None of that is relevant but if you want to eat a great breudher, try baking one from the recipe in the Sri Lankan chapter of the Complete Asian Cookbook.
    There’s something wonderful about the aroma of a yeasted cake baking, looking forward to the fabulous combination of a slice of warm, buttered cake topped with a thin slice of sharp cheese.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the information. I’m quite in tune with the appreciation of the aroma and taste of the breudher. But you should also take up the matter of your family history with Jean Duruz, whose article has the information I quoted. Her book is linked to in the blog post. If she publishes an erratum it might save you from the job of tracking down everyone who quotes her.


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