If you are a
goan the one sound you here early in the morning-other then your alarm- is the
sond fo a ‘poder’s’ horn. After rice, pav is the second source of carbohydrates
in Goa. Varieties include pav, a rectangular, pull-apart refined flour bread,
the bhakri –like flatter round bread, katro pav -butterfly bread, and kakon –
hard bangle shaped bread. Les us see how this ‘Pav’ was born.
Indians as we
know were not very good bakers. The south indians ate rice and the north
indians ‘roti’. But with the entry of muslim rulers from Afghanistan and beyond
brought many new additions to the previously non existant baking scene of
india. The muslim traders and rulers introduced maida or processed flour to the
indians. The naans parathas were added in the indian culinary menu only after
this muslim influence.
were the first to introduce oven-baked breads in india and they chose Goa- the
land of sun and sea to begin. Explorer and navigator Vasco-de-Gama was the
first European to reach india by sea somewhere in 1498. He first stepped foot
in calicut and by 1510 goa became the capital of Portuguese colonies in india.
The term pav, which is widely used in India, derives from the
Portuguese pao, a generic word for bread. Poder – Goan for baker – has its
origins in the Portuguese padeiro.
As Lizzie Collingham points out in her authoritative
Curry – A Biography, the Portuguese landed in parts of India (Cochin, Goa etc.)
where the locals ate rice. But they missed their crusty bread, and in any case,
they needed bread for Holy Communion. They could find wheat flour in Goa but
yeast was hard to come by. So they started using a few drops of toddy-a local alcoholic drink made from the
sap of the palm tree- to ferment the dough and created the various Goan
breads we know today.
When they married into the local communities, these
skills of baking were passed down and some local families soon became experts
in baking. Goan historian Dr
Fatima da Silva Gracias writes in her book Cozinha de Goa: History and
Tradition of Goan Food that the Portuguese Jesuits taught bread
baking to locals in the villages of Salcete in South Goa in the 16th century.
Over the years the ‘Pav’ has spread to Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra
and also in Gujarat.
The Goans pair this ‘pav with various delicacies like
Vindaloo ( Portuguese vinha d’alhos), Xacutti( a goan curry), fried eggs,
Bhaji (curry made of red beans, potatoes or white peas).
Pav which is now staple food item of the western indian
region has stood the test of time. But if you need to taste the authentic and
the original Pav then you have to come to Goa.