Pav – this little square piece of bread, which as legends go, the Portuguese created when they landed on our shores, has become synonymous with the food scene and food culture in Mumbai. Call it a staple if you want, but there will not be a Mumbai-ite who doesn’t consume Pav ( and very, very happily, may I add ) in his regular diet.
Here are 9 reasons why Pav makes Mumbai go round!
1. It’s versatile
Team up pav with anything, and I wager with you, it will taste supremely delicious. Proof? SAMOSA PAV. VADA PAV. OMLETTE PAV. KEEMA PAV, BHAJJI PAV – I can keep going. Try eating these without the pav – you’ll know what I’m talking about.
PS – You can even eat Maska Pav – home made butter lathered generously between a Pav with a sprinkle of the red garlic chutney powder! *The tummy is ‘Hallelujah’-ing right now*
2. It’s Mumbai’s very own street eat!
The pav made its place in the Mumbai street food circuit in the 1960s. For the hawkers and food stall owners, it was easy to carry, with no stress of actually baking the bread while serving and attending to customers. It was and is pretty cheap and tastes incredibly good with whatever you serve with it (refer to point above). For the consumers, it is easily available and convenient to find – literally on every street of Mumbai. All you need to do is turn a corner!
3. Good things come in small pav-shaped packages!
A single pav is not larger than a 4×4 inch square. Whatever you eat it with is stuffed in between. In a place like Mumbai, where your hands always have something, and where you are almost always running late, overloaded with bags, rushing from one place to the next and hopping from one public transport to another, this is the most convenient eat.
4. It won’t dig a grave in your pocket
Any pav food you eat on the streets, whether that’s Missal Pav or Vada Pav or Pav Bhaji or Omlette Pav or Dabeli, is light on the pocket and yummy in your tummy. Ridiculous deliciousness at very economical rates.
5. It brings about an amalgamation of cultures
Mumbai is a melting pot of many cultures. There are people of all religions and castes who live in harmony. And one of the biggest advantages of it is sharing cuisines and food. The street pav-dishes in Mumbai have Maharashtrian, Parsi, and Gujarati influences to name a few. The common factor in them all? Happy stomachs!
6. It appeals to all ages!
This food is for all ages. You will see young kids after playing a cricket match, college kids who have bunked their college, families with their kids and old uncles & aunties after their laughter club class in the park – all of them relishing the tasty and mouthwatering street pav foods!
7. It’s food on-the-go!
The Mumbai heat, the lengthy commute and the traffic inevitably makes you hungry. Well, here’s what I do almost every time I travel:
Me screaming above the traffic din at the auto guy : Bhaiya, anda pav wala dikhega toh zara rok dena.
*After 5 minutes*
Me screaming above the traffic din at the auto guy : Bhaiyaaaaaaa!!! Roko roko roko peeche gaya stall!
*the auto screeches to a halt. I jump out and dash/run to the stall (because I am always running late), grab the anda pav, pay the guy, say thank you and run back to the auto.* ALL IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES.
So, it is food on the go – easy to find, easy to eat anywhere you are, without wasting any time!
8. It’s a unifier in the divide
Rich or poor, man, woman or child, no matter what caste or religion you belong to, this little piece of yumminess unifies everyone in their love for street pav food. From the corporate head-honchos to Bollywood movie stars to the humble tea stall owner – you will see the same smile on their faces once they eat that little plate/piece of deliciousness.
9. Best after-hours snack ever!
Mumbai never sleeps. Whatever time you step out, there will always be some bustle – a group of people chatting on their car bonnet eating bhurji pav, bikers racing, teenagers looking for an after party food place and what not. To cater to all these people, pav constitutes some of the greatest midnight eats ever! Pav Bhaji is a Mumbai foodie’s favorite midnight meal. A close second is bhurji pav and masala pav.
It is absolutely amazing that in a city that is home to over 12 million people, this humble bread brings tremendous joy, fills tummies and is food hero and hunger avenger!