Baking in Goa is Centuries Old.According to eminent Dr. Nandkumar Kamat, the art of baking in Goa can be considered to be a five centuries old institution. It was a Swadeshi (local) answer to the Videshi (global) Portuguese. The people who make and bake the common man’s bread in Goa are locally called, “Poders” in the Konkani language.
From PAO in Goa to PAV in Mumbai
Before the Pre Portuguese history of India, there is no mention or record of people eating a baked product called a, “Pav” in Bombay or other parts of Maharashtra. The know-how for manufacturing the humble Pav (bread) was introduced to India by the Portuguese in the late 15th century.
After the Portuguese rulers took over Goa, many Goans migrated to Bombay now Mumbai, and got established near Dhobi Talao in South Bombay. One such Goan was an Assagao villager by name of Vitorino Mudot. In 1819, he set up the first Goan bakery in Mumbai (Bombay), and started making Portuguese-style pao or pav.
In 1843, there happened to be a take-over of the Pao (Pav) business by Salvador Patricio de Souza, who took over the Goa Bakery Business. Under his business expertise, Goans controlled and dominated the bread-making business in Bombay (Mumbai). After Salvador Patricio de Souza died in the late 1890′s, the Goans were weakened by the aggressive Iranis. The pav business in Bombay (Mumbai) is now conquered and controlled by North Indian Muslims, most of who are from the Grant Road area.
It is understood that the pao was first sold in Andheri in Mumbai by Goan bakers more than 200 years ago. The Iranian bakers then became famous to have taken over the custom of baking the Goa Pao while making sure that their workers are Goan so that the connection of the Goan Pao tradition is not corrupted.
Why Goan Catholics in Mumbai (Bombay) and internationally too are called “Paowallahs”?
One of the primary reasons is for their ancestors having introduced the Portuguese “Pao” meaning bread to Bombay (Mumbai) which is similarly called in Marathi or Hindi language as “Pav”. The golden age of the Goan pao-makers in Mumbai (Bombay) is long gone, but the nickname given to them still remains – makapao. It’s not a polite nickname, but the easy-going Goans take it sportingly (usually, but not always!)
Life in Mega city Mumbai being very fast, many Goan women prefer the readymade and home delivered humble Pav. The other communities prefer more traditional options such as Chapattis, rotis, Dosas, etc. Unlike their Goan fellow countrymen who prefer more rice than bread, the migrated Goan Catholics in Mumbai and Pune and also the sea faring cadets more lovingly called “Shippies” in Goa, prefer the ready to eat Pav, hence the nickname, “Pavwallahs”.
Also still in Goa, one can hear the common phrase at Bakeries in local Konkani language, “Maka Pao Dhi” translated as “Give me Bread”. This phrase has stuck as a nickname for Goan Catholics as “MakaPao” in Mumbai, Pune and within the Cruise line shipping industry.
Types of Goa Breads that come out of Goa BakeriesThe poders of Goa make various types of bread known as pao, undo, poyi, katre, Kadak (hard) Pao, crisp kakon (bangles of bread). There are around 200 traditional Goan bakers in South Goa baking ‘paos’, ‘unos’, ‘katrepaos’ and ‘polleos’ (made of whole wheat husk which are favoured by the diabetic people).
How the Humble Goa Pao is made in traditional Bakeries of GoaThe dough of the Goan Pao is laboriously made by hand and NOT by legs as some mistaken rumours go around. It is mainly a manual and laborious job to knead, shape and bake the bread of Goa called Pao. The Pao of Goa is cooked twice, has a slight hard top and bottom and the middle or inside of a Goa Pao is soft and fluffy. The bread of Goa or Goa Pao is simply made out of flour, salt, sugar, water and yeast. Rest is all skill and art to make the pao.
Traditional Bakeries of GoaIn a traditional bakery of Goa the effort of the baker starts late at night where the bakers knead and shape the pao (bread dough) the whole night making over 2000 – 3000 cubes of pao (bread) and then organise to distribute the hot baked breads to different locations through the nostalgic seller of bread or pao called poder whose honk is still the alarm bell for many a Goan to rise up from their sleep at dawn.
Some traditional bakeries of Goa are Jacklis, Souza’s, Jay Bakery, Pastry Palace, Pastry Cottage, Laxmi Bakery, French Bakery, German Bakery, Dias Bakers, A Pastelaria, Modern Bakery, Andrew & Sons, Bake O Mate, Pedro Vincente Vaz & Sons etc
Where the Pao or Pav is used in Goa?
You can see the humble Pao or Pav in Goa used as a combination with street foods of Goa such as Ras Omelette with Pao, Chorizo Pao (Sausage Bread), Cutlet Pao (Beef cutlet with bread) and last but not the least the common man’s Vada Pao (Potato Burger).
Some Types of Goan Bread
- Undo Pao: Soft square one.
- Pokshie: Round shaped with a slit in the middle and a crusty top.
- Katre: Same as above but with a different shape.
- Kankonn: A hard bangle shaped bread in the form of rings usually eaten dipped in black tea.
- Poie: Brown bread, round shaped and hollow inside. Good for diabetic patients & health conscious people.