In the second of my series on little known Indian breads, I let my nose guide me to the local bakery- where the smell of freshly baking bread fills the old lanes of Bandra’s Bazaar Road.
If you live in Bombay (mumbai), then chances are you’ve had a brun pav with butter at an Iranian cafe- a rather rare establishment today- these cafes usually bake their own bread. But in old-time city bakeries, which you can still find in predominantly Catholic or Muslim areas- rare breads like the gutli, the naram pav and the flat naan fill the glass showcases. And they certainly have more character than the new age ‘sourdough’, multigrain, pretty packaged breads.
The gutli or brun pav is our version of a baguette. Crusty on the outside and soft inside. Baked using the steam method, where dough balls are put into a very hot oven and cold water or ice is doused on the side of the oven to create steam. This creates that characteristic hard crust of the bread. It’s best had with a smear of butter and then dunked in milky chai. Or better still, used as edible cutlery to the famous Irani café Kheema (a delicious dish of mutton or beef mince, slow cooked in lard and spices). By far my favourite way to eat the brun.
Brun, gutli, Kadak are all names for the same crusty, round bread. Pav is the word for bread – a word derived from the Portuguese who left an indelible mark on India’s cuisine with their various culinary contributions. The best ones make a hollow sound when drummed on-yes, there is such a drumming test to check bread!
I remember how the local pav wala would almost be like an alarm in the morning. His cycle bell rang out and it was time for tea and pav. Rows and rows of pav line blue wide mouthed cloth bags, hanging precariously on both sides of the cycle- to give it balance I suppose.
In my home, the kadak pav is used to scoop up spicy curries of pork and mutton. But I also like to simply eat it as it is. I find the slight caramel flavor of this bread very addictive.
In Bombay, you can get your hands on the pretty kadak pavat old world bakeries like City Bakery at worli, Kayanis at Dhobi Talao (town as I still like to call it) and A1 Bakery, Dcosta Bakery – both in Bandra West.
For sinful Kheema pav- find your way to Irani joints like Stadium at Churchgate, Kyani at Dhobi Talao and my favourite – Paradise Restaurant in Mahim!