The home-based production kitchen of Amman’s most delicious pastries, gave me quite a good impression of the people I was going to meet. In the suburbs of Jabal Amman, in one of the city’s old streets, I parked my car and began searching for a small red gate that marked their location. I rang the doorbell and the gate opened almost immediately. Walking towards the stairs of the building’s main entrance, I looked around the nicely planted garden. I pushed another red door wide open as I was asked to head towards the third floor. I then realized I would be meeting someone special, not just a respectable pastry chef and creator, but also a person who has outstanding taste and an eye for the arts. She was there standing on the footsteps of the third floor with a smile on her face and a warm welcome to her humble kitchen.
Maha Kalis the creative mind behind Marmalade, tells us the story of how it all began. For the graphic designer who graduated from one of Amman’s top universities in painting, food was just a passion! “She was, and still is, responsible for the preparation of all the gatherings when friends come over, from appetizers to desserts to the table set up and venue design” added Faridon Abida, Maha’s friend and partner. Her passion for pastries and cooking started as a child and continued to blossom throughout her life growing up among family and friends. “I do enjoy being in the kitchen, baking my favorite recipes and being creative. It’s heaven for me!” Maha added. Diving into a world of pastries is not an easy task. As Maha informed us, she has to go through intensive research for recipes and that’s only the beginning, “I have to personalize the recipes I get as I refuse to imitate others out there; I want to have my own unique signature in the world of pastries.” It is a long process where Maha has to adjust the recipes according to the ingredients the market provides, the preferential taste of the market she is serving and most importantly to the season she is baking.
December last year, Marmalade started their operation from their home-based kitchen for Christmas gift baskets. “We wanted to start a small venture to celebrate our passion for good food, expanding Marmalade to be a leader in pastries was not part of the plan!” Faridon added. In February 2014, Marmalade was launched officially on social media websites: Facebook and Instagram with their delicacies available only through orders from Maha herself and at Seed in Abdoun. It is here where Maha provides three healthy items off her menu for this health-oriented shop. The menu varies from cakes, cookies, loaves, cheesecakes and truffles. “I try to experiment with ingredients and to use out-of-the-box combinations.” said Maha. And it is true, looking at the menu you will find beetroot, lavender, poppy seeds, saffron and other ingredients infused together producing a one of a kind taste bud experience.
While Maha is the star of Marmalade, it wouldn’t have worked successfully without the help of her friends Faridon Abida and Maen Maknay who assisted her in the business aspect of her new venture. Their future plans are to add more menu items and to hopefully establish a Marmalade shop within Amman, however the location is a very confidential piece of information! “I am sure the shop will reflect Marmalade’s spirit, which in return reflects my character.” With a spark in her eye Maha informed us how she is enthusiastic about their upcoming project and looks forward to the future.
*Pictures courtesy of Marmalade