Saturday, February 8, 2014

Of Breads Bombay and Health

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all food;    
and good bread with fresh butter,the greatest of feast" - James Beard 

Well I could not agree more with James Beard. For the better part of my years of growing up breakfast with bread was something which was a common sight at the breakfast table, be it the slice of bread toasted and buttered well with an omelette or fried egg sunny side up of the egg sandwich or the ever favourite French  toasts but the one type of bread which makes me think fondly of my great grizzly bear at home were these simple loaves of bread baked fresh at 6:30 a.m. which would inevitably reach our home by 7 a.m. and my father would go on to layer it with butter and sprinkle it with sugar. Times have changed and we have all moved on from the humble milk breads, casting it aside as the unhealthy demon, but oh what a treat it is to slather the freshest of soft fluffy white loaf with a generous layer of butter. Of course, the days when we would get our supply of cow milk from our village home, it would be a real treat with the addition of the thick natural cream on the buttered bread. This treat was of course limited because the village some 200km away from the City of Joy was far away. 

In recent times, we as consumers, have become quite conscious. There are innumerable articles which educate people and so we are horrified to know that, 'those who eat lots of white bread raises the risk of a cancer' as reported by the DailyMail from United Kingdom. Rows and rows of multigrain bread and wholewheat bread and names I don't even remember but all claiming to be the healthiest of breads occupy shelves of bakeries. 

Kolkata Food Bloggers have decided to keep this week and the coming week as the 'Yeasty Feasty' week and while there are delicious recipes of bread you can find on the page I shall try and share my experience and tips on purchasing good quality bread. 

To be fair I haven't had the best of breads in Calcutta and after my tryst with the bread that is on offer in Mumbai the erstwhile  Bombay my love for bread wakes up whenever I reach this city and it leaves me sad whenever I leave the city. This story takes us to the by-lanes of Old Bombay. While you are mesmerized by the beauty of the architecture that the city has to offer you cannot miss the little bakery tucked away in-between two buildings in Fort, the famous 'Yazdani bakery' , started in 1951 it is a bread lover's paradise and the prices will astonish you in the happiest way possible. They open up in the wee hours of 5:30 a.m. and close down at 7 p.m. in the evening. 

The entrance with its tiled roof is a beauty itself. The place is tiny rustic and mesmerizing. So you have fresh bread being made on one side of the room you share the wooden benches with strangers and the peeling walls adorned with pictures of bodybuilders is hard to miss. The menu is written in colourful chalks on a blackboard and the waiters simply ask you, 'Kya doo?' (What shall I give you?) If you are lucky enough the old man at the cashier will indulge in a little small talk and quite frankly if you have not been lucky enough you sure are missing something. His ever smiling robust presence is so cheerful that the Grinch who stole Christmas would be a changed Grinch.  

When in Bombay you just cannot miss the buns and bruns on offer. You see while these soft fluffy buns are moist and pillowy its harder cousin the bruns are soft inside with a beautiful crust outside. So throw caution to the winds and enjoy it like you should by slathering it with butter and dipping it in some Irani chai. And one brun maska (maska meanign butter) can keep you full for a good 3 hours to 4 hours . Wake up early and head straight to Cawasji Patel Street and sink your teeth in fresh from the oven brun with a cup of irani chai. You see enjoying the brun without dipping it in tea is quite possible and so dunk and feel the magic of these crusty yet soft inside delights. 

For your regular use try the multi-grain bread Soft, dense and full of flavours this healthy bread is perfect for your taste buds and your health. You see, the whole wheat releases sugar slowly and just one slice is enough to fill you up. At Rs70 for 600gm it is quite a delight. Try their Laadi pav one half of the infamous Pav Bhaji or Vada Pav from Bombay, These soft delight are not just for your regular Bombay street food, slicing it in the middle and adding a bit of jam Homemade Strawberry Jam is what a good morning or a beautiful afternoon paired with a cup of tea is all about.

While not all of us have access to Yazdani bakery or cannot always bake fresh delicious bread at home all of us can make little differences to our regular affairs and indulge once in a while :-

You do not have to shun bread altogether simply try and pick up 100% whole wheat bread which is not brown bread. Brown bread is made with all purpose flour and whole wheat .

Healthy bread is supposed to be dense. So try and give your loaf a gentle squeeze before buying to ensure you get your whole grains. Most manufacturers make soft pillowy bread  with the use of all purpose flour.

Here are a few tips on how to buy bread and keep it fresh  which might interest you.

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