- Zarina Akerbally on coming up with creative treats
From concocting recipes at home to a new flourishing home bakery, Zarina Akerbally has conquered the art of desserts with no particular recipe.
In conversation with Zarina, she told us that entertaining guests was something she loved doing, and she especially enjoyed cooking for them. Eventually, by motivation of her friends and family, she began her own cloud kitchen specialising in desserts. What’s even more impressive is that she is purely self-taught.
“In 2019, before Covid hit, I started A Dessert Story with a few basic dishes that I was really good at making,” she shared.
Other than a sticky date cake, which she just introduced, Zarina doesn’t bake cakes; she prefers to try out more intricate and decadent desserts. “I make a flourless chocolate cake called Chocolate Nemesis, which is pretty much a baked chocolate mousse,” Zarina told us, talking about her favourite dishes to make.
She added that she has a few more specialities like Salted Caramel Nemesis, tiramisu cheesecake (which we think is a very interesting concept), Berry Coma, and Cherry Coma (we trust the name speaks for itself). All of these are desserts of her own design.
One thing she’s never done is follow recipes. She shared: “All my desserts are some concoction that I came up with. Whenever I make dinner, I pick out about six different recipes, pick out what aspects I like in each, and come up with my own.” Once the dish seems like a hit, she would add it on to her menu for A Dessert Story.
We asked Zarina if she’s looking to cater to a health-conscious market as well, to which she said that she hasn’t thought about it as of yet. “I’m not a big fan of sweets personally, but I haven’t tried to venture into this market yet. Although, I’ve been told that I should look into it, so maybe in the future,” she said, adding that although her desserts tend to be very rich, she does try to limit the amount of sugar that goes into it.
When talking about the biggest challenge she had to face along the way, she noted it to be handling social media. “I’m not very tech savvy; I’m not very good at constantly uploading pictures and replying,” she shared, adding that it was mainly through word of mouth that she got her clients, but there is no doubt in her mind that Instagram helped as well.
Another great obstacle, which Zarina thinks came about because of Covid, is obtaining certain ingredients. She commented: “I use a lot of imported ingredients. I use high-quality chocolate that I get from abroad and it’s one of my main ingredients.” She added that with the new import restrictions, the cost of obtaining these items have gone through the roof. She also said that she has to resort to purchasing her ingredients from abroad because it’s incredibly difficult to source good-quality ingredients in Sri Lanka, and if she does, they come with a hefty price tag.
Zarina also told us that whenever she would go abroad, she would come back with her bags filled to the brim with ingredients. “I don’t just make desserts, I also like cooking, so I buy whatever ingredients I can’t find in Sri Lanka and enjoy playing around with them to create something unique,” she told us.
With the new year comes new dishes. Zarina introduced a sticky date pudding, at the very end of December, as well as the Berry Coma and Cherry Coma. “I don’t like to sell standard desserts that are already available on the market, so putting out new dishes is not easy as it comes as I experiment,” she commented.
Zarina is excited to continue making her sweet treats and hopes that 2022 will be a fulfilling year.