|Thea Temmeleht, Founder and Director, Nordic Kandie Magic|
- Ambica Gulati
A little ball of almond and sugar, coated pink, blue, green, silver and gold… flavoured with chilli, chocolate, orange, peanut butter, nutmeg, green apple, strawberry, fig, lemon, rose…yummy marzipan! Sweet European treats are now in India’s capital by Nordic Kandie Magic. Run by a lady from the place where marzipans are said to be born, Estonia, Thea Tammeleht has made Mumbai her home by marrying Thomas Abraham. The couple started this about six months back in Mumbai and now Delhi’s posh Khan Market has an outlet too–Neel Sutra the bridal lounge.
Thea is the sixth generation in her family to make marzipan and it’s the family’s treasured recipe. Their little daughter Mia will be the seventh generation and does not appreciate peanut butter and nutmeg!
|Mia with her favourite flavours|
Priced at Rs 205 per piece, there are 16 flavours on offer. The silver ones are Rs 300 per piece and gold comes at Rs 350 per piece. And the gold ones are certified with the coating used among the royals across Europe, including Buckingham Palace and you get the certificate too.
You can choose one to try and get a pack of six packed and then as the order grows, you get a better cloth box, wrapped with a golden ribbon. The couple will open an outlet on Peddar Road, Mumbai, soon.
Before you buy, you can taste too. My vote goes for the Rasberry-Lemon!
So how are marzipans made?
Marzipans are made of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes almond oil or extracts are added. They are often made into sweets–common are chocolate-covered marzipan and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. It is also rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes. Across countries, almonds have been replaced by peanuts, oatmeals, farina, semolina, cashew nuts, pili nuts and more.
A marzipan map of the European Union made by the Budapest Marzipan Museum, commemorating the introduction of Hungary into the union in 2004
Marzipan across the world
In Norway, marzipan is the Easter egg sweet.
In Italy, particularly in Palermo, marzipan (marzapane) is often shaped and painted with food colorings to resemble fruit—Frutta martorana—especially during the Christmas season and on Il Giorno dei Morti (All Souls’ Day) on November 2.
May 9 and 10 are also special days for eating marzipan in Sicily.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, marzipan figures are gifted to children during Saint Nicholas’s Eve (December 6).
At Christmas, in Latin America, mazapán is made with peanuts.
In Germany, marzipan shaped as bread and potato is eaten.
In Norway it’s common to eat marzipan pigs.
It’s not only Europe which likes marzipan. Middle East too has its own marzipan known as lozina. It is flavoured with orange-flower water and shaped into roses and other delicate flowers before being baked. In Iran, marzipan fruit is a traditional Passover treat, replacing cookies and cakes.
In our very own Goa, the Goan Catholic dish Mazpon replaces almonds with cashew nuts.
In the Philippines, mazapán de pili is made from pili nuts.
Legends of marzipan
1. Probably the crushed almonds and honey mix goes back to 1800 BC in ancient Egypt. According to one legend, marzipan was so valued in the early villages along the Nile River that it was used as barter coins known as march pans. It is believed to have thus possibly spread throughout the world, but it is more likely that its origins are Arabic (Persian to be exact), and that the Crusaders carried it back to their homeland during the Dark Ages where it was made by nuns in France. It became well known as march pane in Europe by the 13th century.
2. The old Hanseatic cities Reval (now Tallinn) and Lübeck are both said to be the birthplaces of this sweet. Marzipan, which was initially medicine and is now a sweet is still manufactured in Tallinn as it was done 100 years ago.
Marzipan was initially made in Estonia in pharmacies–in the oldest pharmacy in Europe– Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy which was first mentioned in written sources in 1422.
The legend has it that around the Middle Ages, a rich merchant fell ill. He ordered a famous pharmacist to make a medicine for him. But the pharmacist had a cold, so he asked his apprentice Mart to make the medicine. The mischievous Mart switched some ingredients adding almonds and honey.
The medicine turned out to be better, curing the rich merchant and he liked it so much that he wanted to have it after every meal. The “medicine” made by Mart became popular and soon was shipped overseas to Riga and Königsberg. Bishop Henrik named the sweet after Mart – martipan. Mart became famous, and married the rich merchant’s daughter Matilda!