Most true blue Mumbaikars have an overwhelming obsession with pav. We scarf mouthfuls of pav bhaji at local restaurants, grab a couple of vada pavs from train stations and enjoy omlette pav for breakfast.
Much attention gets devoted to the preparation of the bhaji and potato vadas, but how often do you stop to think about the pav – an equally import part of the dish? Today, we’re paying tribute to the humble pav by delving into its history and versatility.
Pav : The History
For the un-initiated, pav is a soft roll of bread with a unique flavour. It can trace its roots back – surprisingly – to the Portuguese, who arrived in Goa and turned their noses up at local rice in favour of the kadak bread they were used to rating back home. For the want of yeast, they began adding drops of toddy to dough which was then baked to create pav.
Travelers from Goa took the pav to Bombay where locals embraced it as it was cheap, easy to bake and fared well in Bombay’s humidity. They began eating it with local dishes and it became more and more popular.
Today, pav can be easily eaten with almost anything. You can toast it and stuff it with cheese, kheema or omelettes. You can dip it in bhaji or soak it in milk. You can even eat it plain topped with a dollop of butter.
It helps that the pav is so readily available. Every local bread-walla carries pav from door to door each morning in every neighborhood and most local stores stock them. They grace street food stalls and the menus of dine in restaurants.
Personally, we prefer our pav with our afternoon cup of tea and a bit of butter. How about you?