Taking a bite from Julia Child's famous quotes - “How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?” which sometimes is true to our nation where bread is considered only as an element of the morning chai table or an early evening grub and where the average bakery product is far from being a lovable piece of dough. Roti or Chapati in different forms dominate our cuisines from North to South and East to West, thus bread always plays a second fiddle. Our national crowd is distinctly divided into two sections when it comes to bread; One eats a sliced loaf (white, brown or multigrain) and Second eats the ladi pav, gutli or brun. While loaves of Multigrain bread are popular among the middle class families and youngsters, the more traditional pav or brun is a mandatory element of the grown-ups, particularly muslim and christian families.
The 'Brun' or 'Kadak' Pav is one of the fundamental product to come out of any average bakery. A bread which starts life as a slightly tougher version of the average ladi pav, Brun Pav sees the bright flames of the stone oven twice in its daily life cycle before it is let to cool and develop the hard crust; Hence the slang 'Double Bhatti'. In Mumbai, There are pockets where you can find some good old crusty bruns; Bandra West, Andheri, Byculla, JJ & Colaba tops the list with Bandra's A1 Bakery being the most versatile of them all providing all sorts of variations from the regular pavs to Bruns, Dinner Rolls to Sausage Rolls and Sweet Buns to Burger Buns.
Since a few years, the metropolitan cities have seen a change in bread and baking scenery with the introduction of artisan breads like the Sourdough, Brioche and many others. While many home bakers and startups have lend a hand in this movement, a young learned baker 'Aditi Handa' led company 'Baker's Dozen' has played pivotal role. Baker's Dozen with its strategy and tryst for international quality breads has outlets in the heart of city and mostly manages to get sold out by early evening. Fresh batch of Pain Au Levain, Brioche, Baguette, Focaccia, Ragi Bread and lot more arrive at each outlet every morning. Daily consumers vary from locals to expats while few third party internet vendors collect their batches from the closest store. As a lot more people get educated about the availabilities of such artisan breads, the trend can only be seeing an upwards mark.
While new startups and independent bakers are exploring new avenues of this industry, legends like Britannia, Wibs and few others have also adapted to the health oriented trend with its brown, ragi & multigrain loaves. Many households claim that while the move is appreciated, the fancy breads barely add any nutritional value and seem like a mere colored variation of the original white bread. Similar loaves of bread from smaller startups justify the expensive tag with its shorter shelf-life and more important 'unrefined texture' that indicates an authentic product. While local bakery sells a loaf of brown, whole wheat or multigrain bread in the range of 35-45 rupees, the upper crust bakeries manage to price them higher than 50 rupees.
Long gone are the days when a customer said, "ek Britannia ya Wibs dena'. The instructions are now more bread specific and not brand specific "ek Brown Bread with Whole Grain dena". There is a change in mindset of the people who are not just marrying bread and butter, but elevating it ranks by pairing with rich wine and gourmet cheese.