Pav Bhaji Industry Now the Bread and Butter of Mumbai Bakeries, Writes Kunal Vijayakar

Published:Nov 23, 202301:25
Pav Bhaji Industry Now the Bread and Butter of Mumbai Bakeries, Writes Kunal Vijayakar

What The Fork

The bakery has no title. “Just keep driving on the Alibaug-Revas Road that takes you from the Mandva Jetty to Alibaug; about half way down after the railway crossing, but before Thal, is a booze shop on the right and a dirty Sintex tank on the left. Turn at the Sintex tank and take the little mud road that leads up to a small village, now follow your nose and try and find the bakery”. These are the scattered and doubtful instructions that got to me by a painter and a buddy, Brinda Miller, and fervidly endorsed by ex-banker and now wayfarer Shekhar Sawant. Brinda, Shekhar and I are Tuesday lunch mates. We meet at her studio, most Tuesdays over lunch, cooked by Brinda, adventured by Shekhar, or pot-lucked by me. We attempt to invite one or two friends who we might or might not have met or know however can contribute a dish or two, and more importantly sweeten the pot with some good dialog and enlightenment. Figuring out my predilection and weak point for good bread, it was at certainly one of these soirees that each Brinda and Shekhar gushed about this bakery. After about three failed makes an attempt at discovering this place, primarily due to the vagueness of the instructions, I lastly discovered the bakery on my fourth try this weekend. I've to claim that it was the aroma that guided me there greater than the instructions. It’s a small village with a slim winding and ascending highway. The bakery is nothing however a big shed. The blacked partitions lined by logs of firewood. An outdated charpoy with an outdated gent talking languidly on a land line outdoors the doorway to what regarded like a darkish yawning cavern. He waves us by, and we enter respiratory within the candy, candy smells of baking bread. It's my wonderland. Two scorching old school wood-fire overs, dozens of metallic trays with scorching bread straight out of the oven. Our heads flip, our noses elevate, our eyes shut and we are saying to ourselves, “Oh my God—that smells good!” For me, it’s unattainable to withstand that aroma of sugars combining with amino acids, forming tasty golden and umber complexes that throw off quite a lot of risky fragrant compounds that float by the air. The clear, barely candy, yeasty air that in some way smells heat. With the permission of the gent on the charpoy, we broke just a few buns off the ‘laadi’, so scorching that the bread was unattainable to carry. On the skin, completely golden and mildly agency glistening with butter that had simply been brushed on the floor, and gentle, white, steaming and blistering inside. It was quickly turning right into a bender, as we then broke into among the scorching, candy buns with raisin, then centered on the flaky mild “khaari biscuit”, the crushable onerous “butter biscuits”, the milk toast, and different neatly stacked, freshly baked puffy, crispy, crunchy, toasty, candy, salty, savoury splendours, which got here out of the sooty woodfire oven. That is what I miss most. Sizzling contemporary bakery items type an area bakery.

I grew up in Mazagon, in Bombay, which within the Sixties, the place, like in lots of areas of town, a person on a bicycle, with an extended beard, a cranium cap and carrying a checkered lungi would come promoting scorching bread every single day, typically two instances a day. The ‘pav wala’. On the again of the cycle, he lugged large wood field lined with plastic which in flip was held again by an enormous rubber tube. This wood field was full of scorching bread. This was the standard South Mumbai pav walla. He’d picked up contemporary bread from the native bakery, the primary shift of which might begin at about 3 am, and hawk it on his day by day neighbourhood beat, two instances a day. Even immediately, you possibly can see this lungi-clad bicycle owner promoting bread, in most areas of South Mumbai, together with Hanging Gardens, Warden Highway, Nana Chowk, Prabhadevi and sometimes in Dadar. Very similar to his father or his father earlier than him did. It's a sight that until immediately makes me rush to the window and yell for him to cease.

There are often two or three types of breads in that field. The common gentle “ladi pav”, perhaps “sweet bun”, crisp “brun pav” and sometimes sliced bread, and simply so as to add to the revenue just a few sorts of freshly baked biscuits. Diversification means he can also promote eggs.

Most of those bakeries have shut down. Sure, some Iranis nonetheless prevail, like Worli’s Metropolis Bakery, which is the one bakery in Mumbai, I do know, which bakes giant, outsized ‘brun pav’. A couple of foot in diameter, at round two within the afternoon, Metropolis Bakery bakes a batch of those crusty, enormous loaves, onerous on the skin and gentle with a fabulous scorching honeycomb inside. I might wait outdoors with a 250gm pack of Amul Butter, for the recent Brun to emerge from their ovens. Break it with my naked palms and slather it with butter, consuming it proper there on the pavement. There's one other largely anonymous bakery behind Starbucks close to Lilavati Hospital. Tucked in a small lane between two buildings, this sooty wooden fired bakery will reluctantly promote you a single loaf as a result of their purchasers are bakeries themselves. Pakeezah Bakery close to the Mahim Dargah, spews out scorching loaves each few hours. I typically catch the 7 pm batch of “ladi pav”. You'll be able to barely maintain the bread in your naked palms because it singes your palms although the newspaper it’s wrapped in.

These bakeries reside on borrowed time. I'm positive the ‘Pav Bhaji’ business has given these bakeries a lease of life however for the way lengthy? Some will stand robust holding out, some will fold, and I'll at all times be left lamenting their demise.

Kunal Vijayakar is a meals author based mostly in Mumbai. He tweets @kunalvijayakar and may be adopted on Instagram @kunalvijayakar. His YouTube channel is known as Khaane Mein Kya Hai. The views expressed on this article are these of the writer and don't symbolize the stand of this publication.

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