April 19, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: P for ‘Poee, Pao, & Poder’ - Goa’s breakfast habit.

Everybody knows Goa for its sandy beaches, scrumptious cuisine, and laidback lifestyle. However, there is one lesser known favourite that I am going to divulge today, the secret of the Goan breakfast!

While most people all around the world need to set their phone alarms or table clocks to wake them up in the morning, we in Goa wake up to the gentle ‘Ponk, Ponk’ of the friendly Poder circling outside our houses. 

The ‘Poder’, an adaptation of the Portuguese ‘Padeiro’, is a term used for Goan bread maker. 

'Poderachi Cycle' 
Arriving as many as three times in a day (morning, afternoon, and evening) in some places, he is a much awaited morning figure in the lives of Goans. Early every morning, the local Poder can be spotted on his humble bicycle that is laden with a basket of freshly baked Pao, taking his usual round of the neighbourhood. At the sound of his iconic horn, people scramble outside their homes to buy their share of pao and poee from him, before it gets all sold out.

And that brings us smoothly to the Goan Pao and Poee

Pao and Kaakana

What is the difference between the two you ask? Well, Pao, for the uninitiated, is Portuguese for bread and is traditionally prepared in a small hole in a woodfired oven. 

The Goan Poee, on the other hand, is the local name for leavened bread and is the more nutritional cousin of Pao. It is prepared by adding more brand and thereby increasing its nutritional value. It is round and soft and resembles pita bread because when cut midway, the halves resemble pockets. 

Traditionally, the poee is made from half-maida and half whole wheat flour, that was fermented using coconut palm wine or toddy for two continuous days after which It is rolled into a ball and flattened on the floor of the wood fired mud oven, locally known as ‘forn’

But the commercial varieties nowadays use the easier (and less healthier) way out…it uses refined flour and the bran is sprinkled only on top.

Pao is made from the same dough but instead of flattening it on the floor of the forn, a pan is used. 

Other than the pillowy soft, square shaped Pao, there are a variety of other breads baked by the Goan Poder, namely, Kaakana, Undo, and Katriacho Pao.

Kaakana (translated as ‘bangles’) is a crunchy, aromatic, freshly baked variety of bread with a hole in the centre thus resembling a bangle in shape. Undo is known for its distinct round shape, spongy interior, and brittle crust. 

Katar is the local name for scissors and katriacho pao (or katricho pao) therby gets its name.

The Poee and Pao pair well with almost everything. Most frequently the Goan pao teams with a curry or gravy preparations as its soft texture allows it to mop off uptil the last bit of gravy from the plate.  

Goan Bhaaji-pao

Another famous Goan breakfast is the local Bhaaji Pao

Not to be confused with the more popular Pav Bhaji more commonly eaten by the rest of India, this comes in two options; Sukhi bhaji which is usually a slightly watery but majorly dry preparation of potatoes, and Patal bhaji which is a vegetable gravy usually made of dried peas or sprouts. 

There is also a hybrid variety, fondly called the ‘mix bhaji’ where you get served half of each of the above two options.

For the non-vegetarians, there is Ros-omelet, which is essentially omelette in chicken gravy, served with, you guessed it, the ubiquitous, Goan Pao

Goan 'Kaakana'

The ‘Kaakan’ variety of bread is usually served as an evening tea time snack in Goan households.  Back in the day, when formula feed wasn’t invented yet, babies were fed a carbohydrate rich broth made by soaking these ‘Kaakana’ in water…a fact that older generation of Goans will testify. Just goes to say that Goans have learned to identify with bread ever since they were babies, a trait that translated to Pao being an integral part of Goan cuisine. 

Poee, Pao, Kakana

Truth be told, there is no right time for the Goan Poee and Pao. Have it at tea time or for lunch. For dinner, or more commonly a breakfast option. 

Be the most basic Undo, warmed over the fire, sliced open and lathered with butter and a spoonful of jam or Mangaad spread over it, or a toasted Poee with your favourite sukhi or patal bhaaji. Be it Ros-omelet or cutlet-pao, or the plain-Jane Kaakan if you’re on a diet, it is these comforting varieties of bread that have formed a breakfast habit in generations of Goans. 

Irrespective of economic status, religion, caste,and creed, we all need our daily Pao and Poee for a satisfying Goan breakfast. And that makes the Poder an indispensable  figure in our lives. 

Even Mario Miranda’s iconic Goan caricature collection has a Poder featuring somewhere in it.  

They say a Goan and Pao are inseparable. While I do not cater to illogical stereotypes, I have to say that the Poee, Pao, and Poder are very much a part of Goan heritage…something we are extremely proud of and would love to keep intact for generations to come. 

So, ‘Obrigado, Goa!’ for ensuring that we can eat our bread and have it too. For that, we are grateful.

Stick around for another interesting facet of life in my beautiful state.

Until then,

Mog aasu di.

(Let there be love!)



I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post.


Rethink Mindful said...

This is so nice to know that every place has its own rich culture of breakfast. Often we ignore them yet they have their own heritages. A very interesting post Pri.

Pri said...

Thank you, Swarnali. I agree every state in India has got its own unique culture, especially when it comes to food. Indeed, we take a lot for granted. :)

Tomichan Matheikal said...

These are new for me except pao which I came across in certain railway stations like Lonavla and around. These look tempting.