The History Of Bread In India:
How many of us reading this have found ourselves salivating for a Mumbai vadapav? Pav has claimed its place all over the West Coast but is actually a famous Goan delicacy, relished by its locals till today. It wasn’t developed by the locals themselves so where did it come from? When the Portuguese invaded Goa in 1498, they realized that the Indian regions they took over only had rice. Wheat flour was prevalent but we did not have stone ovens, yeast or maida back then, so they took matters into their own hands. They recreated their maida-filled ‘paos’ by substituting their usual ingredients with wheat flour and used toddy for the fermentation process. Instead of traditional ovens, they cooked the rectangular-shaped dough on hot surfaces. In Kochi, the Dutch brought sweet bread which was a cross between a loaf and plum cake called ‘breudhar’. Parallel to this, refined flour and with it, alternate types of pavs were brought to India from the Middle East.
The oven was also introduced to Indians on this journey and through the culmination of these cultures, all the types of white bread we know were born.
Even though it is a guilty pleasure, the white bread that we grew up with is being displaced by this type – Artisan Bread. This bread is usually freshly made by hand, which takes a longer time than regular bread to ferment and bake. It makes perfect sense that these baked goods are flying off the shelves since the scent of bread right out of the oven is hard to beat!
Why Say ‘No’ To White Bread?
Normal white bread uses several synthetic additives to speed up the fermentation process and make baking easier. It is made in factories where it is manufactured in bulk to have a higher shelf-life. The preservatives and chemicals in them have been reported to contribute to various diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart conditions. At the end of the day, it is an industry and it comes down to financial convenience, but at what cost? Why must we sacrifice the one thing that matters most? – Our health. This is what has sunk into the hearts of many as they choose REAL bread over what they can grab quickly at a supermarket. Real bread is made with fewer, natural ingredients that are genuinely good for you. Artisan bread is fermented for a long time to a low pH which acts as a natural preservative. This higher amount of time also contributes to the unique flavour and aroma that can be extracted from a lower concentration of fermentation culture. These lean formulations are coalesced using traditional techniques instead of industrial machinery. This ensures that all the bread is wholesome and still imparts the same warm feeling we are familiar with.
Whether you care about the disadvantages that white bread has on the body or not, you cannot deny the difference in the taste of a homemade loaf over one that has been sitting out for a while. The softness, chewiness on the inside but crispiness on the outside makes it so desirable to be paired with all your favourite dishes. Besides the taste, regular consumption of this bread as a replacement for refined grains may be ideal for heart and weight issues. It is also easy to digest as the enzymes that ferment the dough breaks down the gluten in it, giving it a preferable texture as well. Therefore, this may also be suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.
Some Of The Types Of Artisan Bread That You Can Try:
Make Your Own
You can formulate your own recipes and witness the sweat and tears that go into baking these goodies first hand - Just take 4 ingredients- Bread flour/ All-purpose flour, water, instant yeast and salt. Mix all the ingredients with a spatula until they start coming together, then use your hands till the dough is slightly sticky. Cover it and leave for 2-3 hours at room temperature until it has doubled in size. You may use it immediately or leave it for up to 3 days for a more intense flavour. Shape the dough as you want and preheat the oven to 246°C. Bake it for 20-25 min till golden brown. If it sounds hollow when you tap it, it is ready to go!
The ability to learn is endless and food for thought can be translated into conscious eating if we can apply what we have learned. There are so many excuses we tell ourselves everyday when it comes to better eating. Let us be accountable to ourselves and make better decisions for our well-being and those we love.