Pav-the goanbread.If you are agoan the one sound you here early in the morning-other then your alarm- is thesond fo a ‘poder’s’ horn. After rice, pav is the second source of carbohydratesin 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 weknow were not very good bakers. The south indians ate rice and the northindians ‘roti’. But with the entry of muslim rulers from Afghanistan and beyondbrought many new additions to the previously non existant baking scene ofindia.

The muslim traders and rulers introduced maida or processed flour to theindians. The naans parathas were added in the indian culinary menu only afterthis muslim influence. Portuguesewere the first to introduce oven-baked breads in india and they chose Goa- theland of sun and sea to begin. Explorer and navigator Vasco-de-Gama was thefirst European to reach india by sea somewhere in 1498.

He first stepped footin calicut and by 1510 goa became the capital of Portuguese colonies in india. The term pav, which is widely used in India, derives from thePortuguese pao, a generic word for bread. Poder – Goan for baker – has itsorigins in the Portuguese padeiro.As Lizzie Collingham points out in her authoritativeCurry – 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 butyeast was hard to come by.

So they started using a few drops of toddy-a local alcoholic drink made from thesap of the palm tree- to ferment the dough and created the various Goanbreads we know today.When they married into the local communities, theseskills of baking were passed down and some local families soon became expertsin baking.  Goan historian DrFatima da Silva Gracias writes in her book Cozinha de Goa: History andTradition of Goan Food that the Portuguese Jesuits taught breadbaking 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 Maharashtraand also in Gujarat. The Goans pair this ‘pav with various delicacies likeVindaloo ( 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 indianregion has stood the test of time. But if you need to taste the authentic andthe original Pav then you have to come to Goa. 

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