A’poie’tizer

The Portuguese left behind the legacy of their proficiency at bread-making for the poders (local traditional bread-maker) of Goa. Though the customary method of using toddy to ferment the dough is rare to come by now, there’s nothing to beat the distinctive aroma, light smoky flavour and unique textures of the staple bread of Goans. Be it the soft, chewy, square, pao (पाव), crispy, crumbly, undo (उंडो), hard-crusted, bangle-shaped, kakon (काकोण), butterfly-shaped, katryo (कातर्यो) or the slit-in-the-centre, pokshe (पोक्शे). But even within this exalted lot, the poie (पोई) is a revelation which has to be truly experienced and relished.

The poie is a flat, round, coarsely crusty, dense though hollow in the centre, slightly chewy, bread made with a high ratio of whole wheat flour to refined flour (maida). A roll in wheat bran before baking gives it that distinct coarse crust and nutty flavour. Available only during the late afternoons, the poie is delivered by the highly punctual poders who cycle their way through the narrow village bylanes, announcing their arrival with a distinct “ponku ponku ponku” of their bicycle horns. And thus it arrives, just in time, to make the Goan high tea really special!

– Narendra Nayak © 2019

32 thoughts on “A’poie’tizer

  1. I take it the ‘toddy’ that was used in traditional bread-making was alcoholic. When I lived in Liberia, fermented palm wine often was used. Straight from the tree, it was light and bubbly, but the longer it was allowed to sit, the more yeasty it became.

    I would love to be able to purchase fresh bread like that, especially from a roving vendor. There’s nothing in the world better than hot, fresh bread — with butter, please!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ma’am, for adding this lovely footnote to my post. 🙂

      I ought to clarify that what is known as “toddy” locally is actually fermented palm wine, while the fresh unfermented sap is sold locally as a nutritious energy drink, “neera”.

      Oh, yes – the honking of the bicycle horn of the poder must be the sweetest music to Goan ears! It sets the taste buds abuzz just thinking of the warm bread with (and I second you heartily!) soft, melting butter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, ha! A British word applied to a local delight, then. When I hear ‘toddy’ I think of whiskey and hot water, with sugar and lemon. I love that we’ve shared the experience of palm wine!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. …or couldn’t have timed it worse? 😉
      Cause, for me too, the very thought of the honking bicycle gets me drooling with the dreamy aroma of piping hot poie slathered with soft melting butter! 😋
      And thank you, R, for your appreciation of my post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha… then I’ve fulfilled the objective! 😄
      But seriously, I thank you, Pallavi, for regularly visiting this space to read my musings. 🙏🏻
      I hope God blesses you with an opportunity to bite into a piping hot poie soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Neelanjana, for reading. 🙂
      I do hope you get to experience it when you’re next in Goa – not just all the variety of breads and the poder’s honking delivery service, but even visiting a traditional bakery itself, because the kilns are fast getting replaced with electric ovens! 😐

      Liked by 1 person

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