Is Pav Indian?
The incredible history of Pav has very humble beginnings. It was once said to be poor man’s dream food and food reserved for the minorities (muslims and Catholics not trying to be racist). Unlike all the stoires from the history, Pav and its origins are a bit melodramatic.
There is a difference between bun and Pav(Pao)
Origins of Its name Pav
I’m a Gujarati born on the other side of the nation at Bihar(it wasn’t Jharkhand yet). So, I asked the best men (i.e. my Dada and Nana) about the history and introduction of bread and its fellow cousins in western states. The bread didn’t penetrate the eastern regions(not even today). Eastern region uses rice and whole wheat flour more than any other Grain.
As my Grandfather had his extended family in Bombay(Mumbai) for more than a century (we Indians have large families, Gujaratis and Mumbai are a synonym for us). It was here he heard about this great food “Pav.” My Dada(don’t judge me my Bong friends) told me that they Muslims were involved in the baking of pav those days, he went on to tell me that Ali Road was Aromatic paradise, baker’s filled the air with their sweet smell. As the Muslim labor would knead the dough with their legs and hence the name was coined pav.(I wasn’t convinced as my Dada is old but not as old as the bread in India).
When I came to Ahmedabad, I went on to ask my Nana about this curious question. He took me to his Parsi friend. I was there for a treat with the history with the Parsi Uncle. He told me so many stories of the mill workers and India’s rise in the cotton mill. Every food and it’s introduction in the Mill Era its highs and lows(Don’t friend I know now the origins of Misal Pav and Pav Bhaji). He told me that pav was introduced much earlier than “Bread” by the Portuguese and as its a quarter of the whole loaf, hence the name was coined Pav(quite witty).
Laadi Pav (pao)
I wasn’t happy with the answers yet so before writing this blog I was googling for an answer and to no avail I could find any article or even a decent explanation why is it called Pav. I realized one thing the Parsi Bawa told me Portuguese introduced bread to India. On the Stroke of Google translate I got “pao” the translation for Bread. Yes, this is how simple it was thanks to technology.
Stay with me on this one. As the Portuguese came to India via Calicut where the is India’s oldest Roman Catholic Church(RCC) came to India in the early 16th century(BTW India’s oldest church is St. Thomas Church as old as 52 A.D. ). As a tradition in the RCC gives Bread and wine. Wine has a long shelf life (Wallah one problem solved) and bread had to be cooked in India itself so Cochin and Goa must be the first place to create bread using taadi(local daaru aka wine/ if they didn’t ring yeast with themselves) to ferment the bread and the ovens they had brought with them. Sugar was still considered a spice, and it was costlier than salt. And its later cousin Bun added sugar. Soon this Goan pao went to the more populated city of Mumbai(Still love to call it BOMBAY).
So in a short history of time of 350 years we have a revised menu of Marathi menu that didn’t ever exist. And goan cuisine do we have to say a word on it.
PS: Bun is cooked individually (and is usually sweetened) on the other hand pao is cooked in batches on the same pan so they have conjoined edges (and is always unsweetend).
Wuth more than 500 years of history we can say Pav is Indian.