Hyderabad: It's around 3 p.m. Deepak walks into Cinderella Bakery, bumps fists with Naziruddin Khetani, the owner of the bakery, and they start chit-chatting. He simultaneously runs his eyes through his usual favorites - biscuits and rusks. From rusks, his gaze suddenly shifts to Aman, Nazaruddin's son. "You were only this much (gesturing with his hands) when I first visited the bakery," he remarks. Deepak has been religiously visiting the bakery for over 30 years.
"If you walk into Cinderella Bakery anytime between 10 a.m and noon, you'll be greeted with the sumptuous aroma of freshly baked bread. It's irresistible," says Deepak.
Cinderella Bakery was established in 1987 and is located in a cozy corner in Secunderabad. Ask any auto driver or a local and they'll point you towards "Cinderella junction". Over time, the bakery has become a landmark. It has become so popular that the junction itself is now called Cinderella junction.
Aman says that some customers have been visiting the bakery since before he was born.
Meanwhile, another customer Ramya walks in. As she looks for her regular bread packet, she says, "I have been visiting the shop since I was in high school, around 25 years. Now I bring my daughter here and she loves this place. The quality of food in the shop has been the same. In fact, even better since then."
Nasiruddin says his customers are now like family. "There are so many regular customers who have been coming to the bakery for more than 20 years. The people I knew as teenagers now come along with their children here," he says adding, "That was the aim all along. I wanted to make people happy, be a part of their lives."
Aman says that Cinderella Bakery is a part of people's breakfast or snacks table. "Customers often tell my father that their chai is incomplete without Cinderella Bakery's rusk, that celebrations are incomplete without our cakes, cookies, and namkeens," he says.
When Nasiruddin took over the business from his distant cousin in 1992, he said that he had one goal – "to provide freshly-baked items". Come noon, people walk into the bakery and start buying several items in bulk. "Our mutton toast and cutlets are a crowd favourite and get sold within hours, sometimes minutes of putting them up on the counter," Nasiruddin says.
"We have never sold an item that is more than a day old," says Aman, holding a bread packet. He presses it gently and explains, "The freshness of any baked item can be determined by how soft it is. Even if it is a day old, the bread becomes slightly sturdy."
Ramya adds, "I only get my bread from this place. It is the best in the city. Nowhere can you find freshly-baked bread every day."
Around 130-150 loaves of bread, buns, and snacks such as chicken puffs, Mutton Lukhmi, and more are freshly made every day. And they are all available for pocket-friendly prices.
Nasiruddin explains that the cookies and biscuits are made in larger batches and have a longer shelf life. "So, each batch baked lasts for four-five days. But nothing is ever left spoilt," he says.
Aman says that if any of the baked items are left unsold on a particular day, which he says happens only "once in a blue moon", then the items are given to the poor.
Cinderella Bakery is also famous for its moon-shaped biscuits which are an absolute delight. They also bake a handful of jam rolls every day with their in-house jam. They are also one of the very few bakeries in Hyderabad and Secunderabad that still serve Mutton Lukhmi (a traditional and popular Hyderabadi snack that dates back to the Nizam period).
Despite the good income and profit, Nasiruddin has never thought of opening another branch elsewhere. "A lot of people ask me to do so. But there will always be only one Cinderella Bakery. Our business is driven by providing good food and I will not compromise on that," he says explaining that it would be hard to keep track of the quality of food with more branches to handle.