Saturday, December 20, 2008

Everyone finds bread in Mumbai…

This time I decided to come up with something that can possibly bring some mouth watering thoughts to the readers.

Recently I was running from pillar-to-post looking for what I can find about Chennai that instantly connects with the locals. Though I got answers running from filter coffee in a steel container, idli and dosa on a banana leaf, pongal, rassam and much more; nothing was coming in as the thing you would say originated from Chennai.

It out me back to my desk to think if I can’t think Chennai- can I do the same for Mumbai??? And as if by some divine intervention, a light dawned on my head saying… “How about Pav???”

Oh yes…. Pav, baked bread made from white baker’s flour and yeast to make it soft and fluffy. This is not an Indian bread from its origination. But this sure is the thing that Mumbai has accepted, like all its migrant population, and created a whole new range of Mumbai food specialities; a category comprising of the unhealthiest fast food in India today. (I will advocate every fast food in my own way in person some other day)
Now when I say Pav; its not counting the Pizza base, slice bread or the gourmet breads into account as this is definitely alien to anyone in India. The Pav under discussion is the laadi-pav which comes together in a bunch of 6,8,12,16 or the 24- the maximum I have seen so far.

So where has this Pav come from and why is it called so???? I am pretty sure this Pav is another thing that came from the Parsis. The only reason I feel so is because this is the main item on any Irani restaurant. So even if the brun-maska, Irani paani-kum Chai, and Istanbul tea are the selling points, Pav is the item most prevalent on the menu. Besides since yeast is believed to be used in bread that was from Egypt, the Parsee Community from Persia might have got the first taste of the Pav. So I’m not actually finding the answer to whether the name has come from “pav” meaning a quarter in Marathi or it was “pau” or feet in Hindi.( yes there have been report where the dough was being kneaded by feet)

What ever may be the origins, Pav is an integral part of Mumbai. Even a beggar on the streets of Mumbai craves for a Chai-Pav in the morning and a Vada-pav at the end of his day. In fact it has been so much into the social food system that if the prices of pav are to go high, there are agitations outside the bakeries.

Pav also seems to have been one thing that has broken the barriers of caste, creed and religion in Mumbai. Every Mumbaikar has dug his teeth deep into a Vada-Pav, Bhajji-Pav, Missal Pav some or the other time. If you are into some fusion, well patties- pav and samosa-pav (my staple diet in my engineering days for lunch) will be suiting your taste buds the most. Go to Mohammed Ali Road and you will get Kabab-Pav, kheema-pav, kalegee-pav; just about anything you want. The double omelette- pav or just simply maska-pav with sugar from a Kayani or BastaniAnd don’t you forget how fantastic is Sorpatel-pav from any place in Bandra or Orlem? Mumbai will never be the same without its favourite- Pav.

So if its time for me to now end this topic and I say, I believe- everyone come to Mumbai with a dream; more often than not, always finds the bread before he goes asleep!