Bakers and the Makers: Goenche Poder

By Arya Sinai Agni

Growing up in Goa,we never believed in making use of alarm clocks. Our early wakeup call every morning was either in the form of yelling from our mothers or it was the sweet sound paaaaaan- poooooon, paaaaaan-poooooon ponk ponk! The horn announcing the arrival of ‘Poder’ (baker) on his bicycle. Hot hot ‘pao’ delivered to our doorstep , which was the best part of every morning.It was a part of being a goan. The tradition still continues, although the quality of bread has considerably lowered.

Pao. What would Goa be without pao ? Rather what would pao be without Goa?

This art of bread making was originally introduced by the Portuguese. Goan breadmaker is locally known as ‘Poder’ . Portuguese called them ‘Padeiro’ Bread making in Goa has been a family tradition handed down over generations with entire clan involved in the profession.

Goan Pao is made in wood-fired mud ovens, locally known as ‘forn’.The Portuguese picked the next best thing i.e. toddy after yeast. They added a few drops of toddy to the dough. And well, the scrumptious Goan pao was born. Legend has it that the people of Utorda-Majorda were the first to bake bread with toddy as a fermenting medium. The art of baking bread spread in Goa.

Pao in Goa is sold in various forms such as soft & chewy pao, the poie(whole wheat pockets), the undo which taste delicious dipped in hot tea and also goes with chicken xacuti and bhaji. Another variety is Katricho pao(scissored bread) where the dough is shaped with scissors.Then there is Kaknam(bangles) rings of crusty bread.

Recently the occupation has come under stress due to the changing social and economic patterns. But then one can never be sure of the poders range and pedal power, the occupation might still sustain for few more generations.
Hoping that our coming generations be able to taste our own delicious goenche pao….(with xacuti or bhaji)
Slurp slurp :p 😀

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