Most people associate the crack of dawn with the rooster’s call –– a sound that lays somewhere between a cluck and a crow. In Goa, this call follows the sound of the Poder, the carrier of bread –– a logo that a replacement day has dawned. The word Poder itself springs from the Portuguese word for the baker, Padeiro, ascertaining the cultural heritage of this bread.
It dates back to the 1550s, consistent with this Indian Express report. “The Jesuits, who were an area of the Salcete sub-district, one among the “old conquests” by the Portuguese in Goa, passed on the art of baking bread to the new Christian converts.”
According to Cozinha de Goa, ‘History and Tradition of Goan Food’ authored by Fatima da Silva Gracias, the members of the Chardo caste of Majorda in Salcete, an area rife with plucky palm groves, helped produce the key ingredient, sur or toddy, that made the Goan bread “rise and shine like no other.”
For those that have broken through the crust to listen to a symphony of crackle, or woken up extra early vacation just to catch their neighbourhood Poder, gratefulness falls short. It’s this method of fermentation that sets this region’s bread aside from the remainder of the country.
One glance into the Poder’s basket, and you’re bound to find a spread of bread –– all a culinary delight of its own, never weighed down by its colonial history. It is to be noted that every area of Goa has its own Poder who follows a specific, never-changing route on every day to day.
However, it’s increasingly difficult to seek out authentic local bread in Goa today, says Mr. Peter Dalima, the President of the Goan Bread Association. “Toddy (the main ingredient used for fermentation) has gone up from Rs. 30 per litre to Rs. 120 per litre –– making it very expensive for the local poder to accumulate . Today, plenty of bakers use commercial yeast instead,” he tells us.
Today, there are but 25 bakers in Goa who bake bread the way it had been meant to be. We broke down the various sorts of popular local breads from the region for once you hit the jackpot and end up within the midst of a standard, authentic Goan bakery. Word of advice? Your best bet is to hit the Margao Market!
This semi-soft square-shaped bread is endless favourite of all –– its crusty, golden crunch providing the closest alternative to the western ‘dinner roll’. It’s best eaten with chorizo and cutlet wedged in between the airy, white innards –– making for a perfect breakfast accompaniment, while also making for the proper accompaniment to the ros omelette.
This bread is most almost like a pita pocket. It is typically flatter than the others and features a wheat bran outer layer. As it rises, it forms a hollow cavity within it that’s ideal for stuffing with Goan sausage. It is made out of a mix of whole wheat and white flour, and is slightly chewy in texture, as reported here. Poie and chicken cafreal could also be a culinary match made in culinary heaven –– there’s no going wrong with this mix.
This bread gets its name from the Konkani word, kator, for the tool wont to provides it with its shape –– the scissor. While being unrolled, the scissor is employed with crisp hand movements that mould the dough. The katro pao is certainly identified by its distinctive shape-round, but cut on all sides, quite kind of a butterfly. In the Poder’s oven, this bread takes about 5 minutes to bake.
It is believed that this bread gets its name from the word for bangle, kankan, and in fact, its shape resembles this lineage. It is typically a tough, ring-shaped bread with slight cracks on its crust. This is a symbol of it being baked to its optimum capacity –– one crack faraway from being inedible. This bread is devoured with a cup of tea, glazed with a dollop of butter, and cheese if you’re feeling a specific indulgence.
This bread is very distinctive given its obvious shape , and therefore the brittle crust which falls apart (the results of baking it at low temperatures) as you sink your teeth into the bread. The insides remain soft and fluffy, championing it to be the foremost commonly used bread for the mighty Goan cutlet pao.