Chef Naimita Jagasia shapes a sweet, vegan planet

Mumbai-based vegan pastry chef Naimita Jagasia gives a rave-worthy spin to delectable desserts through her patisserie, an ode to the Goddess Earth, Gaia

There is something so satisfying about the vegan stunners in those delectable filter coffee macaroons, Old Monk chocolate cakes, brioche doughnuts, black forest entremets, mystery cheesecakes, orange pistachio loaf, mini tarts, lemon blueberry pound cake with yuzu lemon curd…They are an expression of inventive odd ingredients by Chef Naimita Jagasia, Founder-CEO, An Ode to Gaia, a hyper-modern, luxury plant-based patisserie. The first of its kind in India.

At 26, she isn’t just the owner of a bakery, but a guru-chef to aspiring vegan bakers, chefs, students across the globe, and a vocal advocate for a sustainable and ethical lifestyle. ‘Anything you can bake, I can bake vegan’ is her anthem. Her most recent radical spin on vegan desserts? “I’ve been laughed at by chefs, that I am a plant-based pastry chef and run a vegan French patisserie. I have been told umpteen times that vegan this and vegan that isn’t possible,” confesses Naimita, motivating me to finally crack a seriously good vanilla mousse for a classic French entremet. The key is to have a proper setting agent, and premium quality white chocolate. It took me a few months to nail our house-made dairy-free white chocolate recipe, and then keep modifying my mousse recipe to make it Mumbai-weather stable (and Mumbai-roads stable!). To make the mousse light, airy and perfectly set using agar, coconut cream, soy and the white chocolate was no easy feat.”

Comes the eye popper: She hasn’t been to a culinary school. Encouraged by the response to her made-up recipes and whimsical cupcakes, the artist in her came to the fore. Naimita went to fashion school and studied footwear design, and then applied the structure and shape to the artistry on another medium—bakes! The shift to veganism happened when she reluctantly moved back to Mumbai and missed the sweet offerings of London’s weekend vegan markets.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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