By Iyath Adam
Terrafika is an up-and-coming food business by Aishath Shezin, whose flavour-bomb cookies are seriously delicious. Started during the lockdown last year, Terrafika now has a 2000-strong follower base on Instagram, with their products in well-known food outlets like Meraki Coffee Roasters, Seahouse Café, ComFood and The Detox bar.
For this article, we have a chat with Shezin about Terrafika – how it started and how it’s going.
Lonumedhu: First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into baking?
Shezin: I’ve been baking since childhood, mostly cakes for relatives. My passion for baking can be traced back to the wonderful women in my family who influenced and inspired me greatly. But it wasn't until recently that I had the opportunity to showcase my work in a café, and it was then that I began experimenting with the art of baking.
Terrafika was born when we started giving our homemade cookies to friends and family during the early days of the pandemic, just to brighten their days. It was a hit, everyone loved it and wanted to share with others. I guess it's all about spreading love, joy and happiness.
Lonumedhu: I understand that the name Terrafika comes from the Swedish fika, ‘coffee & tea break.’ What inspired you to choose this name?
Shezin: Terra is a Latin word that means "earth" or "land," and it represents the beauty and bounty that it provides.
I'd like to turn this into a café in the future, therefore I needed a name that would work well in that setting. Terrafika represents a moment to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, like coffee with friends.
Lonumedhu: Baking at home for your family and baking commercially for a business – while also running it – must be two very different experiences.
Shezin, Haha yeah, definitely.
Lonumedhu: How would you describe it? What are the challenges?
Shezin: At first glance, there isn't much of a difference between the two. Baking for friends and family is pleasant, relaxing, and you're having a good time, you can afford to make a few mistakes. But when it comes to baking professionally, you must be quick, efficient, and most importantly, consistent. It's easy to get bored when you work long hours and make the same cookie over and over. Preparing large batches is difficult; even a minor mistake can lead to the entire batch being discarded.
Despite this, my family was extremely supportive and went above and beyond to help me with day-to-day operations. But I wouldn't describe it as very challenging, perhaps because I enjoy what I do and it’s more convenient working from home.
Lonumedhu: Yeah, I guess it’s because you can allocate your time accordingly?
Shezin: That's a part of it, for sure. However, in the future, I'm attempting to secure a kitchen space because there is a limit to what you can do at home.
Lonumedhu: So, what would you say are the most popular items off your menu? I’ve heard terrific things about your cookies!
Shezin: Mostly the cookies, yeah. But brownies, and white chocolate brownies as well. And the pie too. We get a lot of orders for our pies.
Lonumedhu: Ah yes, I think we did a review of your chocolate pie sometime back. How do you come up with the flavours for your products? I see that you have a lot of different-flavoured cookies – the funfetti, the smores one, pistachio etc…
Shezin: I usually try to find flavours that pair well with chocolate. For example, I try to figure out which fruits go well with white chocolate, then test recipes from there before fine-tuning and finalising a flavour.
Lonumedhu: Is it difficult to get the kind of high-quality ingredients you need for baking here in Male’?
Shezin: I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. Most of the ingredients I use are usually available at Fantasy Store but sometimes it is a bit challenging to obtain a consistent supply of a specific ingredient. Many suppliers are low on inventory, particularly during the lockdown, but this has since greatly improved. To ensure quality and taste, we have to switch between recipes when substituting ingredients.
Lonumedhu: Okay, so this is something I’m personally very curious about. What’s the secret to a perfect cookie?
Shezin: A lot of love but mostly high-quality ingredients.
Lonumedhu: Is there anything new or different that you want to introduce to the menu?
Shezin: There are a lot of exciting new products planned for the future but finding time to try out new recipes is challenging. In any case, I'll be introducing them in the not-too-distant future.
Lonumedhu: What’s your vision for the future? I think you mentioned before that you want Terrafika to be a café, down the road.
Shezin: Yes, I want Terrafika to become a global brand. Perhaps there will be a Terrafika store in Malaysia or Australia in the future.
Lonumedhu: That’s great to hear, and we would like to see that for you too. Thank you so much for your time, Shezin. We wish you wonderful times ahead!