A hearty meal with loved ones gathered around a table decorated with meaty Easter feasts defines the D'Souza household's annual Easter Sunday ritual. "I mean there's salad too but since I abstain from meat during Lent, I don't even look at vegetables on Easter Sunday," quips 26-year-old Angie D'Souza, founder of The Holy Fork, a Mumbai-based home catering business, whose Marzipan Easter Eggs are a hot-selling treat in the holy week leading up to Easter Sunday.
Between meeting delivery orders of Easter treats, Angie took a moment to celebrate Easter with IFN. Operating her catering business out of her central kitchen in Marol, Angie not only has a delicious Easter special menu but also has a drool-worthy catering menu lined up for your next house party. Between whipping cream, Angie tells us what lured her into the catering business and reveals the story behind her East Indian family's 100-year-old Marzipan Easter Eggs recipe.
Painting a mouthwatering picture of the D'Souza family's annual Easter feast, Angie says, "We have the chicken curry, traditional mutton curry with coconut gravy, sorpotel, chicken roast, pan rolls and potato chops," she says, listing the items before adding, "and Marzipan Easter Eggs, of course"
Food in my Blood
Taking up food as a profession came naturally to Angie, a marketing professional by day, who exclaims, "I grew up in a family that's obsessed with food."
Her earliest memories of the kitchen go back to when she was 7 and would watch her father cooking and stirring. "My mum used to work and my dad cooked a lot," she says, adding, "He was in the business of catering to flight kitchens. I guess I have it in my blood."
Life Lessons over Garlic Peels
Some of her fondest childhood memories are of standing by her father's side in the kitchen and "observing how he'd do things". "Obviously, at that time, I wasn't allowed anywhere near the knives but he let me stir the food," she reminisces.
"He would give me lots of garlic to peel and my hands would burn. Then, like a realist, he would tell me, 'It's all in the process. It's only going to get worse from here'," she recalls between laughter.
Angie credits her father for some of her best life lessons. "These small lessons have managed to get me where I am today. That's how I got into the idea of cooking as a business. I always knew I wanted to do my own thing eventually."
Which brought us to her full-time job as a marketing professional and how she manages it all. "I'm trying to keep the hustle going," she jokes but promptly adds, "I still need some sort of financial stability to support my business."
However, instead of bogging her down, Angie's job adds value to her catering business. "Now that I've learnt the catering business side of things, my job helps me understand the nuances of a business from the marketing perspective," she explains. "I'm gradually learning how to promote my products better."
Angie started The Holy Fork four years ago when her friends, who would wipe clean the lunch boxes she brought to the office daily, insisted she start a food business of her own. Angie says, "My mum is an East Indian and my father Goan so my recipes are an amalgamation of both cultures and traditions. I have the best of both worlds in me."
Angie D'Souza with her Mother
Calling it a family-run business, Angie says, "My father used to help me with a lot of the business operations but he passed away recently. Now my mother helps me keep it together."
Crediting the flexibility of her job that allowed her to pursue the idea of The Holy Fork, Angie explains why she chose to start a catering business. "I've grown up in a family that doesn't believe in cooking small portions for a meal so the idea for a catering business came quite naturally to me," she says and adds, "We've always cooked for a large number of people."
Taking catering orders for nothing less than a kilo, Angie says, "That's how much I can cook normally. I don't have it in my blood to cook for one person alone," she says, laughing.
Coming to the million dollar question of the 100-year-old Marzipan Easter Eggs recipe, Angie reveals, "It comes from my mum's East Indian side of the family. She learnt it from her aunt and uncle, around whom she grew up. They, in turn, learnt it from their parents."
It's a story Angie loves repeating because it's a question she would never tire of asking her mother as a child. "My childhood memories are dotted with my mother making sweets like marzipan, milk cream and chocolate fudge for us. Standing by her side I would always ask her where she learnt it from. Every year she would tell me the same story and still I would ask her again," she says between giggles.
Made with Love
Talking of the time before the fancy baking tools we know today, Angie says, "Back in those days, there weren't any moulds to make the marzipans. They would make shapes with their hands. For colour, they turned to natural ingredients like beetroot for red, spinach for green and mango for yellow. Mango is my favourite because it not only gives colour but adds flavour to the marzipan sweets too."
Once she started baking herself, Angie recalls how nervewracking it would be to visit Aunt Juliet, from whom her mother inherited the marzipan recipe, with something she had prepared. "There was always a 'but...' after she'd taste it," says Angie and adds, "but it was a good 'but' because it helped me get better each time."
Moment of Pride
Having stuck to the original marzipan recipe and techniques makes Angie swell up with pride every time. "It's an out of the world feeling, to be continuing the recipe as it is," she says, "I wish to pass it on to my children someday, let them know how important it is to not change it."
Angie keeps her Marzipan Easter Eggs recipe simple by not adulterating or commercialising the recipes. "I take pride in making them with a recipe that's untouched, right at home with quality ingredients and techniques passed on for generations." Finally, "it's my consistency and value for money that keeps my customers coming back," says Angie.
Angie's roast chicken, roasted pork and pulled barbecue pork are some of the most ordered items on The Holy Fork's menu. But it's not just the non-vegetarian's hunger that Angie can feed, The Holy Fork menu has "something for everyone".
Listing some of the other meals from her menu, Angie says, "There's a vegetarian quiche which is mushroom and spinach with a lot of cheese." Quickly turning to the non-vegetarian fare, she adds, "Pulled pork quiche is gaining popularity so I am eager to introduce it. I recently tried a tester at home and it was out of this world!"
Angie's Easter Special menu this year includes a couple of new additions. "I've introduced Rum Easter Eggs and Oreo Easter Eggs and the response has been great so far." Angie has also introduced a crunchy twist to her otherwise regular vanilla cookies. "I have covered them in a thick layer of chocolate so it adds a crunchy bite to it."
While the classic Marzipan Easter Eggs remain the same, Angie has introduced a chocolate layer on her Easter treats on popular demand. "I don't like experimenting with the marzipan recipe. Milk, cream and eggs as it is is the holy grail in a traditional recipe so a chocolate layer is the only leeway I give myself with that recipe."
Featured Image: Envato Elements; Images Courtesy: The Holy Fork
Think of her as a delicacy. She could be a red sauce penne pasta or refreshing strawberry smoothie. A little sweet, quite tangy and unapologetic on the palate. Her soul is that of a gastronome, mind of an illustrator and heart of a writer. She uses these ingredients to plate up tasty stories about food at India Food Network as an Associate Editor. Be it her blogs, articles, reviews or food shows; she promises a wholesome affair.