‘Pav’ Or ‘Pau‘ Or ‘Pao‘ originates from the Portuguese pÃo for bread.

It is a generic term used to denote ‘bread rolls‘ in Goa and some other parts of India. In Bombay, it refers to a specific form of bread that you break off from a slab. It has a super soft interior and buttery exterior that’s perfected by the folks at the city’s Iranian cafes.

Bastani shut down some time ago. The others, slowly dwindling, are treasures of Bombay’s culinary heritage. Iranis are Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran to India in the early part of the 20th century (The earlier immigrants from Persia nearly a 1000 years ago are called “Parsis”). Many were bakers by trade.

Bombayites call it ‘ladi pav’. ‘Ladi’ means ‘slab’ and that’s how they look when baked, two rows of three (sometimes four) pavs each that merge together while rising and cooking forming a rectangular slab of six or eight buns. They are then plucked out one by one.

‘Ladi pav’ at Yazdani Bakery in this video.

Most non-Bombayites associate Pav with Pav Bhaji. Pav Bhaji is the Gujju gift to Bombay street food. It’s a dish cherished by everyone in my city. However, Pav Bhaji is also integral to the street food of other parts of India like Ahmedabad and Surat.

What’s unique to Bombay (and perhaps to Pune with its Iranian bakeries), is maska pav with chai. There are also the jam/mutton/chicken puffs, Irani pudding, nankhatais, khari biscuits, and Shrewsbury biscuits. The latter are found only in Bombay and Pune, not even in the English town of Shrewsbury (our dear Shammi‘s town), where Bee futilely tried to track down some.

Maska = butter. Not any ole butter. It has to be the salted golden utterly butterly delicious Amul butter.

The Amul moppet with the red and white polka dress is a Bombayite. She was created by ad guru Sylvester Da Cunha in 1966, and re-emerged in various forms through the catchy slogans penned by Bharat Dabholkar.

The Amul ad campaign, with its social commentary, is part of street life in India. Amul billboards are a ubiquitous part of the cityscape. The campaign is 39 years old, making it the longest running outdoor ad campaign in the world. Each time you buy a packet of Amul butter, there’s likely to be a new cartoon on the back, referring to a topical issue. See the entire list of Amul ads HERE.

During singer Shakira’s ‘Oral Fixation’ concert tour. March, 2007

That’s Nandita on the right. :D She tells us how she got hip-notized.

When Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear

The ‘I Love Mumbai’ campaign. 1990-91 (ladka – pronounced ‘lahd-ka’ – is Marathi for ‘beloved’ )

Amul is not just a brand of butter. Behind it lies a remarkable story. In December 1946, a group of poor farmers in Anand, Gujarat formed a dairy co-operative to free themselves from the clutches of intermediaries who hindered their direct access to the markets. Today, Amul represents nearly 2.2 million dairy famers who, under the leadership of Dr. Varghese Kurien, transformed India into the largest milk-producing country in the world.

The extraordinary story of Amul

C Y Gopinath tells you all about ‘maska pau with chai‘ at Yazdani Bakery in The Loafers of Cowasji Patel Street.

“You eat our maska pau, you’ll go mad,” Irani said to me confidentially. “The maska pau at Yezdani is the best maska pau in Bombay. You write that down.” He gestured towards my open notepad.

Read on. :D

‘Gopi’ is as iconic in the Bombay culinary landscape as the institutions he writes about.

You order the fresh pav, dab some butter on it, and it melts almost instantly into the hot silken crumb. You have this with kadak (strong) chai . It’s a staple meal or snack for many throughout the city, rich or poor. Not so long ago, it cost a rupee (less than 3 cents) for a pav. There are two types of pav one can order. The first is ‘bun pav‘ which is soft white bread, that can soak up copious amounts of butter and just melts in your mouth. It’s perfect for pav bhaji, vada pav, dabeli and kheema pav. The second is ‘brun pav‘ with a crusty, hard exterior perfect to dunk in hot tea. These bakeries used wood-fired ovens until the nineties. Now, many have converted to diesel ovens. There are only twenty or so of these institutions left, with unpretentious interiors and a blackboards with terse instructions.

Bombay’s beloved bard Nissim Ezekiel listed these from a bakery he frequented at Dhobi Talao in a poem. ;-)

“No talking to cashier/No smoking/ No fighting/ No credit/ No outside food/ No sitting long/ No talking loud/ No spitting/ No bargaining/ No water to outsiders/ No change/ No telephone/ No match sticks/ No discussing gambling/ No newspaper/ No combing/ No beef/ No leg on chair/ No hard liquor allowed/ No address enquiry/” By order.

The board at Yazdani. Pic from fravahr.org

We’ve figured out that adding milk to the dough gives a really soft crumb, and brushing it with butter towards the end of baking gives the trademark golden crust. Pav is usually made with all purpose flour. We used a combo of white and whole wheat flours, and the result was very soft and flavourful.

PAV / PAU / PAO

( Makes 6 large or 8 medium)

Ingredients
3 and ¼ cups flour (we used 1.5 cups whole wheat and 1 and ¾ cup bread flour)
3 tsps. active dry yeast
1 tbsp maple syrup (or sugar)
1.5 tbsp. butter (melted)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsps milk
2 tbsps. melted butter to brush

1. Add the salt to the mixing bowl or bread machine bowl, then add the remaining ingredients (except the 2 tbsps. butter for brushing the buns), with the yeast and sugar on top. Start with 1 cup milk.

3. Knead for 6-8 minutes until you get a smooth, elastic ball of dough. If it is too dry, add 1 tbsp. milk at a time. If it is too wet, add 1 tbsp. flour at a time.

4. Put it in a large bowl, cover the bowl with a plate, or oiled cling wrap, and keep it in a warm place until doubled in quantity. (one to 1.5 hours)

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment (this is not absolutely necessary, but recommended).

6. Punch the dough down gently, knead it a bit, divide it into 6 or 8 parts, depending on how big you like the pavs.

7. Roll each piece into a ball, then put a drop of water on the surface and roll it really well on the damp surface, cupping your palm, into tight balls. The dampness generates friction.

8. Place the balls on a baking sheet 1 inch apart, press then down very lightly, and cover them with a floured tea towel. Let them rise again in a warm place until almost doubled (about 30 minutes). When they rise, they ought to ‘merge’ at the edges.

9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F. After the second rising, bake the breads for 13-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in them comes out clean. Brush with the butter and bake for another 5 minutes.

10. Cool them on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

See Pav @
Anna Parabrahma
A Whirl of Aromas

And BHAJI …

Pav Bhaji

This is Nupur’s aunt’s recipe @ One Hot Stove. We didn’t change a thing.

This sauce has no onions. Brilliant. Save yourself some time, sulphur fumes, and oil. (This is strictly the personal opinion of Bee, who doesn’t fancy onions.) Also, the bhaji is relatively low-fat. The butter is added while serving. We find that a teaspoon per serving is plenty. It is hard to taste something when you have an oil slick in your mouth. This recipe yields a wonderfully flavourful pav bhaji with clear tomatoey notes.

We recommend Everest and MDH brands of Pav Bhaji Masala. If you’ve run out of it, don’t let it deter you from making this dish. In a pinch, this will serve the purpose.

PAV BHAJI MASALA

Roast and grind together:

one cinnamon stick (about 1.5 inches)
half tablespoon cumin seeds
half tablespoon coriander seeds
2 red chillies
1 tsp anardana (dry pomegranate) seeds

If you don’t have anardana, add 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (amchur) without roasting. Add 3/4 tsp chaat masala to the mix in the end.

Amul ads from Amul.com

Check out Sailu’s Pav Bhaji with ten veggies.

Pav holds the limelight in this entry for the Regional Cuisine of India event. This month’s theme is Maharashtrian Cuisine hosted by dear Nupur of One Hot Stove. The event is the brainchild of Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine.

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50 Comments

  1. Nandita says:

    Hey another wonderful read guys! Just last week, we watched this play in Prithvi- Luvin’ Mumbai which showed Mumbai scenes over 5 decades and guess what was kept in the backdrop to indicate the time period? The Amul ads showing some very unforgettable current events like the old Don movie, Harshad Mehta Scam, Bombay blasts, floods etc…nothing like Amul ads that reflect the culture, a lesson in media ethnography!
    I’m gonna try this pav at home, Anita has sent me some super active yeast and since its raining cats and dogs here, not to forget the winds howling like they’ve been possessed – a hot buttery pav and chai will be perfect!

    And hey thanks for putting me next to Shakira LOLLL

  2. mandira says:

    the pav bhaji looks great. so good to see you both back, hope you had a great time!

  3. Suganya says:

    Oh! Thats a nice post bringing back Amul.. I love those Ads. Thanks for the link for the other Ads too.. Bread is ‘Pan’ in japanese, that sounds almost like pao. All in all, this entry is Perfetto.

  4. Anita says:

    Maska-pav and chai, if that is not the best start to rainy days, what is!

    Amul really is the Taste of India. Another feather in its cap: Amul just this month became the first billion-dollar cooperative! We all grew up on Amul butter and it is part of our everyday lives – no wonder it is stocked by Indian stores in the US!

    Thanks for this buttery post and for the recipe. And oil slick is not = melting butter!!! But 1 teaspoon is quite enough in these nutrition-obsessing times… :D

  5. madhuli says:

    Utterly butterly delicious post B&J :)

  6. Sreelu says:

    Amul has always come up such creative advertisements, always reflecting the current events and trends.

    Pav Bhaji looks delicious.

  7. aa says:

    Thanks for the recipe and the nice read…
    Having been a regular visitor to Bangalore during my summer holidays as a child, I swore by VB (Vishveshwarapura Brahmin) bakery’s sweet buns with raisins. In my early 20s I discovered bun-maska-chai at Bastanis (and their bun beat VB’s hands down!!)…I’m saddened to know they closed down…but thanks to you I atleast wont go wandering around Metro cinema going ‘idhari kidhar tha na’

    And oh…I swear by nupur’s aunts bhaji too…its awesome isnt it?

    kyani across the street is still open. – b.

  8. Dee says:

    wow! great dish!!! I loved the entire write-up and the pav bhaji looks delicious!!

  9. viji says:

    A nice recipe with nice write up. Enjoyed the ads too. Viji

  10. arundati rao says:

    hi bee and jai!! wow perfect food for a rainy day….i too made the bhaji from nupur’s aunts recipe and it was superb…..but i haven’t the courage to actually try th epav…haven’t recovered from the last escapade!!

  11. TheCooker says:

    The bread, guys, looks amazing….The texture of the split bun. (running out of adjectives here.)
    Just today I made rolls and pizza using only WWF, but I added wheat gluten. Made such a difference.
    Have you tried using gluten?
    The writeup and the Amul ads made a great read….but the bread :)

    we inhabit gluten-land. we use gluten to make bread flour, and add it to whole wheat breads too. – b.

  12. Srivalli says:

    Jai and Bee,

    Great recipe, of course the write up is also very informative. I am going to try this pav. Thanks for sharing.

    srivalli
    http://www.cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com

  13. Linda says:

    I’m so tired I couldn’t read the whole post — I skimmed and will save the delicious reading for the ‘morrow. I couldn’t resist stopping now to say how YUMMY it looks.

    And yes, now I want some Amul butter for my oral fixation :)

  14. roopa says:

    wonderfull writeup bringing back Amul to our lives. the pav looks so soft and texture looks very good. btw the whole wheat flour is wheat flour used for chapatis? and bread flour here what i buya looks at the ingredient it state wheat flour too. So bread flour is plain flour right?

  15. Meeta says:

    Incredible – the post as well as the recipes. I reading this. When we were kids visiting India we too would die to get buttery toast or bread – only with Amul! Thanks for this!

  16. Priya says:

    I made the bhaji just last week and used Nupurs recipe. It was absolutely yummy ! Will have to try your pav’s soon. I am sure they made the whole dish even better.

  17. Jyothsna says:

    Just when I am recovering from my missing-Mumbai syndrome and home sickness, you come up with this wonderful write-up about pav, Amul ads and pav bhaji….!!!! Thnakfully, we get that yummy Amul butter and pav here for our regular dose of bun-maska, pavbhaji and vada pav…now I only need some rains for a hot cuppa!

  18. Nirmala says:

    Wonderful pics. First time reading the recipe for the Pao..Usually the Bhaji recipes are posted…Great work…I am drooling over the baked paos :(

  19. Rachna says:

    utterly butterly melty lovely write up…. i love amul ads and always check them out from their site!!! will try the pav recipe, looks yummy…. with maska and chai…ufff what a combination…

  20. indosungod says:

    a darn good narrative and an absolutely lip smacking recipe.

  21. Nupur says:

    What a remarkable post! I am speechless, for once in my life!
    I think “utterly butterly delicious” was the first phrase I learnt to say (complete with the sing-song voice) :) Have been searching high and low for a good pav recipe, so thank you, thank you!

  22. sandeepa says:

    A great read and equally great pav – bhaji.

  23. sharmi says:

    that board was so funny!! I loved the healthy looking pav. beautiful pics.

  24. mallugirl says:

    and I thot the amul cutie was from Delhi..so u both were in bombay for some time before heading west, i guess.. very nice write up and made me yearn to see the Amul billboards on NJ turnpike.:( no maska here.:)

  25. richa says:

    love those amul ads and all products amul :)
    pav looks yum :)

  26. Manasi says:

    Thanx u guys!! For bringing back wonderful memories of Mumbai and PavBhaji!!

  27. Asha says:

    Loved the ads!!:D

  28. Mythili says:

    Utterly butterly delicious post you guys !!! What an awesome compilation of Amul campaigns !!

    And whole wheat pavs… .whoa those look awesome as well the bhaji too

    Love,
    Mythili

  29. Nabeela says:

    I absolutely loved your post and info on pav and amul butter. Keep up the good work!

  30. Cynthia says:

    Those ads are so funny! It is always such a treat to look back at these things. The bread, I can smell how heavenly it is :)

  31. Linda says:

    Ok, I got to read it through this time and you’re making me want to bake this bread. This is scary :) Seriously, really enjoyed the whole post and the link to that bakery clip — just great too. Thanks :)

  32. Poonam says:

    Awesome post!!…..and very nice recipe….the Pav looks great…and I loved the Amul ads :)

  33. Dhana says:

    wow, what a g8 post….making the paav from scratch sounds wonderful…making bread is way more fun that breaking bread am sure ;)

  34. Anjali says:

    I loved this post! I am a big fan of Bharat Dabholkar. He is so much in love with a AMUL the utterly butterly delicious that he has now become a bun pao (shaved head)!!!
    See him here

    http://photogallery.movies.indiatimes.com/thumb.cms?msid=540027&width=100&height=100

  35. Pintoo says:

    Bee and Jai,

    You don’t know how emotional you made me with this utterly butterly delicious pav. Firstly I was looking for this kind of whole wheat pav recipe for a long time. And yours looks just perfect. Secondly with the Amul butter I have so many fond memories attached to it. My mom when I was 10 yrs old, would save some money so that she could get me my favorite butter, because that was the only thing I wanted on my bread. She would tuck Rs.5 under my shirt and would ask me to walk down 5 blocks to get my favorite Amul butter. I still think that was just yesterday. Time flew by but my love for the Amul butter is still the same. And no butter here in US would come close to Amul. Am I right?

  36. Pia says:

    Hi Bee and Jai,
    You can add me to the list of your ardent and faithful blog fans. Ever since I discovered it (quite by accident) 3 months ago, I faithfully check this blog every night before I go to bed. Its become a sort of pre-bedtime ritual. I love how conscious and creative your recipes are, your sense of humor and of course the photography is so fun and fabulous. I tried making this pav today. I had only whole wheat atta – so I just used 3 cups of that and added an additional 1/2 cup of flax seed meal. The yeast I used was atleast two years old – so not sure if that affected the results. The crumb was quite dense but was very tasty. I am a novice at breadmaking – so I was relatively pleased with the result overall and hope to try all your other recipes in the crumbs and crust series. Thanks a million.

  37. [...] The recipe is a direct copy from here. [...]

  38. Rainee says:

    This recipe rocks! Yours is one of those blogs where I want to try every single thing you make. Talk about recipe-stalkery :) But, this is the first of the ‘baked’ recipes that I have attempted.

    I used King Arthur organic whole wheat flour with a bit of vital gluten , hand-kneaded the dough and subbed honey for the molasses.

    The rise was perfect and the crumb was just as your photo shows. The teeny bit of disappointment came from the fact that the bread was just a bit ‘bitter’ when eaten by itself. Perfectly fine with the bhaji though.

    I wonder if it because:
    - I used honey instead of molasses
    - Something about the flour was off.
    - Or maybe I am just spoiled by the taste of the refined flour hamburger buns
    - Or all of the above?

  39. [...] I made my own fresh Pav from scratch, using this recipe from Jugalbandi, which I sliced in half and sauteed in butter before serving with the Bhaji. [...]

  40. Zarina Cama says:

    Loved your site. I grew up in Mumbai..and have such fond memories of Brun Pau…its better than any bread I have ever tasted.

  41. Pinky says:

    Hello guys

    U have a wonderful site & i know that u must have heard this a million times……but beleive me u have a gr8 site & the pictures in the site are jst very nice.I am a regular follower of some food blgs & heard abt u all in one of thm…when i chkd the site it was so very nice…..I had seen the recipe of pav & wanted to try it out at home & so did pav bhaji at home 2 days back & the pav came out very nice……they were very soft has we had them fresh from the oven with amul butter on it….thanx for the simple & nice recipe…simple coz i am still learnin the threads of baking…planning to try many more recipes from ur site.
    Pinky

  42. [...] back, and although the buns were edible enough, they didnt quite make the cut. Then I tried the pav buns from the Jugalbandits and that was a very much better effort. The flavour and aroma were lovely, but the texture still [...]

  43. Pritya says:

    Hi, so glad to find the pav bhaji masala recipe on your blog. Have been looking for it for a while. I am going to make it tomorrow. Curious to see if such few ingredients in the masala will render similar flavors of the popular pav bhaji. Cheers!

  44. Manasi says:

    Bee, I made my first batch of Pav today and YAY!! they look great , so far (just out of the oven), just 1 question, the tops are looking kinda dry and are not well browned ( I used all purpose flour only) but is done on the inside, where did I go wrong? flour?

  45. [...] This recipe could be tweaked to make great dinner rolls (pav) for pav bhaji. [...]

  46. Divya says:

    Hello! Great blog! I made this recipe yesterday. It tasted delicious and was really soft on the inside. But the outer crust was a little hard/firm. What can I do to make it soft? Should I have put the melted butter from the very beginning?



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