A pao-erful culinary ally
Vasco Alvares or Vasquito is a chef extraordinaire whose day starts and ends in the kitchen. On the menu is where he will dish out advice, knowledge and culinary nous
Story: Vasco | Alvares | 03rd September 2012, 09:08 Hrs
Maka Pao, Mak or Pao wala are common names for the Goan catholic originpopulace of Mumbai, names that have their origin in the fact that bread inMumbai was introduced by them. They were probably overheard saying “maka pao dire” and thus the name. Bread making wasintroduced by the missionaries who used coconut toddy as a replacement foryeast, lending Goan bread its unique flavour and texture. Pao is also thePortuguese word for bread and it has become such an essential and integral partof the Goan way of life that almost every village had a bakery, and not muchhas changed since then, except for the mechanization of the kneading processand the non Goan delivery service. The xaxticars dominate the bakery industryand they run most bakeries even in the north.
We have quite a variety ofdifferent breads and the most common across the board in Goa and Mumbai as wellis our namesake the Pao. Golden brown on the inside and soft on the inside,this bread is found everywhere there is a presence of Goans, and they have theopportunity to bake. This variety is seen everywhere and is most popular atsmall bhaji joints and omlet gaddos, and of course at bhayyas pao bhaji, wherehe melts a huge dollop of Amul butter on the griddle and then fries the pao init till crisp and toasted. Utterly butterly delicious is the most apt phrase inthis case.
The ‘Undo’, my favourite is made only in Panjim and is a lovely crustybread with a cushion soft center and is very similar to the Italian Ciabata.Best when stuffed with sausages or a hot crunchy beef cutlet, is great forbreakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack and any other in between indulgence.When it is delivered fresh just some butter is great, throw in some cheese orjam, or both and it goes to another level. But a must try is warm Undo withbutter and hot caramelized Moira bananas sprinkled with sugar. The ‘Poi’ or thepollee, a round flatish whole wheat bread, or at least it’s what It is meant tobe, hollow in the center and dusted with bran. It is full of flavour and is aslightly healthier than the other varieties. It is soft and can be eaten withanything, specially gravies, but I personally prefer it for sandwiches,specially with Goan fare like salted tongue or pork roast and it also makes forthe most amazing burger bun.
The lesser known varieties are ‘Katre’ and ‘kankne’. Kankne is a bangleshaped very hard and crusty bread normally found in tea stalls as it has to be‘budoille’ or dunked in the tea to be eaten. Everything tastes better with Goanbread, be it garlic bread, bread pudding or French toast, the unique flavouradds a special twist to any dish. So while we are ungratefully made fun of andcalled maks or Paos, we shall enjoy our leavened heaven.
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