We’ve been hearing some great things about the kanamadhu cake (sea almond cake) from Bakes by Fira. So, we got in touch with Aishath Firasha to find more about it. Below is the conversation we had over some tea and her experimental brownie cookies.
Lonumedhu: Our first question is obviously about your kanamadhu cake. It’s just delicious and we hear so many good things about it. Tell us about how you came up with it.
Fira: When I had my daughter, my whole life changed. I decided to be a fulltime stay-at-home mum. I’ve always been into cooking and baking, and whenever I had time just for myself, I wanted to make some use of it. So I started baking. I love Nigella Lawson’s recipes and I think I have tried most of the cakes there. The kanamadhu cake came from that time of experimenting and testing.
Lonumedhu: Your kanamadhu cake has a distinctive taste. I bet you are not going to tell us why that is.
Fira: I am not going to (laughs). A lot of people do ask me what I put into it but I always say that if you go to a KFC outlet and ask for their fried chicken recipe they are not going to give it to you either. I can tell you that it didn’t turn out perfect the first few times I tried. Took a lot of experimenting and adjusting. All thanks to my family and friends for their feedback. I was surprised when I found people actually liking it and I got the opportunity to have my cake served at Thyme and Akoya, and that was the beginning of everything.
Lonumedhu: Apart from Thyme and Akoya, from where else can we get your kanamadhu cake?
Fira: In addition to Thyme and Akoya, you can get it from Café Lavaala and Barcelos. Barcelos being an international franchise, it’s such an honour to have my cake served there.
Lonumedhu: That really is a big deal! Congratulations!
Fira: Thank you! I am really happy about it.
Lonumedhu: So how did you learn to bake?
Fira: Just by referring to recipes online. When I was little my aunt use to bake, and I remember being really keen on observing what she was doing. And my family members are great cooks; my mum makes things that are absolutely delicious, and she is my biggest inspiration.
Lonumedhu: Kanamadhu cake is so popular here in Male’. Sort of like a cake trend that looks like it’s here to stay. Do you observe anything else gaining popularity these days?
Fira: It depends; I think there’s a growing demand for cookies these days.
Lonumedhu: What kind?
Fira: Well, chocolate cookies, chocolate chunk cookies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, crinkles.
Lonumedhu: Speaking of cookies, these brownie cookies we are eating right now, tell us a bit more about it.
Fira: I’ve been experimenting on these for a while now. It was actually an idea I found on Pinterest and I’ve been trying to get them to be perfect as well as bring my own touch to it. The recipes I find online often have too much sugar for my liking; so cutting down on sugar is a major adjustment I usually have to make.
Lonumedhu: So what’s in this? It’s really cool because it’s a cookie and a brownie at the same time.
Fira: Chocolate chips, cashew nuts and dark chocolate and other ingredients.
Lonumedhu: We see many items other than the kanamadhu cake on Bakes by Fira. Can you tell us a little bit about them?
Fira: Kanamadhu cake is definitely the main item but recently I’ve started making cookies; I also make carrot cakes, red velvet cakes, chocolate cakes, and almond cakes too. And there are many more to come.
Lonumedhu: Since you make kanamadhu cakes for the cafés and also for the individuals who order them, do you have any quality control measures?
Fira: I like putting a lot of kanamadhu in my cakes. And I try and find the best ingredients to maintain the quality of my cakes.
Lonumedhu: So what would you say are your biggest challenges?
Fira: The biggest challenge is that from time to time items run out completely from Male’. And also some ingredients are so expensive.
Lonumedhu: Yes Kanamadhu is so expensive.
Fira: Very, very expensive.
Lonumedhu: Sometimes I think other nuts such as cashew nuts are cheaper.
Fira: That’s probably because making kanamadhu is actually a very arduous process. It has to be plucked, dried, and then opened by using a specific technique. And after they are opened, they need to be dried again.
Lonumedhu: So from where do you get your kanamadhu?
Fira: I get mine from the local market and islands. I am really careful about the quality. There are days in which during the early hours of the morning I would be separating the good kanamadhu from the bad, each one individually. It’s important to me that I only use the good ones.
Lonumedhu: So how do you manage everything with your little daughter around?
Fira: My daughter Myra, she’s actually really cool. She’ll be hanging around when I go on with my work and we receive a lot of help from our family too. They are very supportive. So it’s not difficult.
Lonumedhu: We ask this from everyone we interview. What are your favourite ingredients?
Fira: Dark chocolate and kanamadhu, those are my favourite ingredients. Then when I think of other ingredients I have to say butter. That’s something I have to use all the time, and I use Anchor butter. The taste is just different from other brands.
Lonumedhu: So what do you do when there’s an Anchor butter shortage in Male’?
Fira: We just find it from somewhere somehow. Actually it’s all thanks to my husband Imma. He’s really helpful. Shopping for ingredients is an everyday routine for us.
Lonumedhu: Last question, if you can eat just one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
Fira: If that’s the case it’s going to be rihaakurudhiya with roshi, lonumirus, thelulifaiy (fried moringa leaves), young mangoes, and thelulimas (fried fish), that’s a perfect meal.
Lonumedhu: That’s it. Thanks so much for the tea and cookies, it was really fun talking to you.
You might also like:
Chocolate Kanamadhu Fudge recipe
Lonumedhu's Maldivian Recipe Collection
Interview with Zeeba Saeed, owner of the Zeeba's Deli & Cafe'
Lonumedhu is about eating great food right here in the Maldives.
Our easy to follow recipes use locally available ingredients.
In our blog you will find food news, interviews with chefs and cooks, useful information about eating out and other foodie reads.
© Lonumedhu.com 2017-2022. All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.
Lonumedhu.com has partnered with Qualia Pvt Ltd, a publishing & marketing agency, for its desktop and mobile advertising.
Advertising enquiries should be directed to (960) 987 4396 or email@example.com.