If there’s one thing I miss dearly about being in Mumbai, it is easy access to freshly baked pav – a soft, beautifully leavened bread that pairs many popular snacks and meals in Mumbai. Vada pav, dabeli pav, misal pav, usal pav, pav bhaji, kheema pav, bhurji pav…etc etc.
And nothing can replace pav. It may look like just another bread or dinner roll, but only only after you’ve eaten it in one of the many food pairings listed above, will you truly appreciate its worth.
Early in the morning you will see men on cycles with a large canvas bag hanging near the back wheel, delivering orders of pav to homes and bakeries. My grandfather used to have a standard order of 6 pavs that would be delivered home every morning. 2 of them would be reserved for our dog (these were the days when dog food was not available) and the remaining 4 to be had for breakfast, morning tea and then in the evening.
Here’s an interesting article that talks about its history: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/32025/taking-pride-our-very-own.html
Living in Singapore meant I had no access to this bread.Friends told me of pav available at Mustafa – but I only found dinner rolls. Bread available at the local bakeries was good, but nothing like pav. And since I had always thought making pav at home would be impossible I continued to have to live without it. (There was an assumption that only the talent and effort in the many small bakeries across Mumbai could produce this wonderful bread)
Till one day I decided it was time to at least explore the possibility of making it. I came across countless recipes and videos on how to make pav which resulted in countless failed attempts to make it. The yeast was not frothy enough, the flour didn’t seem to be right, I didn’t get that miraculous first or second rise after proofing, it was raining, the oven was not hot enough….the mistakes and excuses I made were endless.
Till one fine day after patiently noting down and correcting everything that had gone wrong in earlier attempts, I finally produced a batch of almost perfect pav. Pav bhaji, here I come!