The Mistress of Marzipan
By : | April 12, 2017

If you’re shopping for Easter goodies, Nordic Kandie makes some exquisitely sumptuous festive delights.



This Easter, forget the cashew-based marzipan you religiously bought from the Goan aunty in Bandra. Thea Tammeleht, a Mumbai-based Estonian expat has instead put out a range of marzipans that are not just deliciously different but also made using a secret family recipe that has been handed down generations. Tammeleht owns Nordic Kandie Magic, a luxury label under which she sells authentic European marzipan in India.

Speaking on life before she migrated to the country, Tammeleht says, “Prior to my marriage, my husband Thomas and I shared a long-distance relationship. Introduced by mutual friends, Thomas is the CEO of an electronic payments firm and his work demanded that he shuttle between India and South America. He also made time for me by travelling to Europe often. So when he popped the question to me while we were vacationing in Amsterdam, we both had to make a choice — were we to spend our marital life together in Europe or India? In the end, India it was!”

Nordic Kandie is made from hand-selected Mamra almonds from Iran, organic sugar, pure Belgian chocolate and fine ingredients imported from Europe. The kandie is the gooey core of the marzipan that is coated with a layer of sinful Belgian chocolate. Every Nordic Kandie is a visual delight, hand-rolled, sprinkled with icing, embellished with artisanal detail and individually wrapped. Carefully arranged in royal blue packaging, the marzipan looks like softly-hued gems placed in a jewellery casket reminding you of the movie Chocolat—of a woman who owns a little confectionary store and enchants people with the chocolates she makes while secretly banishing their physical and health ailments as well.



“I’m a sixth-generation marzipan maker who treasures her ancestry’s heirloom recipes.  I still remember my great grandmother’s artistry and the sweet kitchen aromas that used to fill the house when she baked. She did all her baking in a traditional wood-fired oven.”

It helps that Tammeleht is from the same town as Mart, the young apprentice to a pharmacist who is credited with discovering marzipan. The story goes that sometime in the 15th century an Estonian nobleman Rathman Kalle hired a pharmacist to cure him of a terrible illness. The pharmacist, in turn, left the job to Mart, who, as per norm, had to consume the medication himself before administering it to the royal patient to rule out any incidence of poisoning. To make the bitter medicine palatable, he combined the medicine with a few kitchen ingredients and presented it to Kalle. Not only was Kalle immediately cured but the concoction tasted so good that he named it ‘Mardileib’ or Mart’s bread. The medicine is now enjoyed the world over as marzipan. As subtle as Tammeleht may make her desserts seem, Nordic Kandie Magic’s 14 flavours are pure hedonism: classic mamra, blackcurrant, lychee, anjeer, chilli, mango, rose and nutmeg to name a few.

Easter Box

“Setting up Nordic Kandie after moving here, wasn’t an idea but more a case of realization of the potential, the family tradition and history that Estonia holds in marzipan making.” Tammeleht says, “It has been believed that marzipan making began my hometown, Tallin, in pharmacies. My family has been lucky to hold a marzipan recipe that has been in our family for generations, but we had never thought of commercializing it until late last year in Estonia when my Indian husband suggested we share this wonderful gourmet delicacy from Estonia with the world, after making me sample some Goan Marzipan, which is wonderful in itself, but different in recipe and composition. Authentic Estonian  marzipan is always made from almonds, and the finest marzipan is made from Iranian mamra almonds and organic sugar, unlike marzipan here that is made from cashews. With that thought, we set up our company in Europe and in February 2014, a week before Valentine’s Day, we launched Nordic Kandie Magic in India, to offer luxury gourmet marzipan. The good thing about India is that a lot of discerning Indians have global exposure and are open to new gourmet experiences.”

European royalty also made use of edible gold and silver in their gourmet food so Tammeleht also serves a special 24-karat version that’s plated in edible silver and gold leaves manufactured exclusively for Nordic Kandie Magic by the renowned Florence gold leaf maker Giusto Manetti Battiloro. “Marzipan as a product used to be the indulgence of the royals across Europe in the middle ages. Also, in those times, nobility were besotted with finding elixirs that preserve youth and gold was thought to be one such elixir. Our gold-covered and Belgian chocolate-covered luxury marzipan is an opportunity to create a completely new segment in the luxury gourmet delicacy segment.”

Move over, Willy Wonka, Thea Tammeleht is here to stay.

For someone who began his media career as a freelance journalist, Nolan Lewis is now quite convinced that life as a media hack isn't as glamorous as it is made out to be. Over a year of living life in the fast lane, late night networking events and crazy deadlines writing for, and editing magazines later, he has added the digital media to his portfolio and is now Consulting Editor (Digital) for Eat Stay Love and Blackbook magazines.