Aussies have their damper rolls, the French their baguette, Italians their pane di casa, North Indians their roti. I’ll have the Bombay ‘gulti’, a.k.a. ‘brun pav’ any day, thank you! I've always had a soft spot for this hard-crusted bread with its fluffy centre.
I took the above photo when I went back to Bombay last year. All I wanted to eat for breakfast every single morning for over two months was gulti.
Take an early morning walk down the by-lanes of Bandra and let your nose follow the tantalising aroma of freshly baked bread wafting from the various bakeries – A1, Jude, Santan, Hearsch, National... Laadis of number 8 rolls, soft loaves, buns and gutlis all ready and waiting to be bought by locals or delivered by the pavwalla (bread man).
As a little girl, I remember my dad’s daily morning ritual: attending the 6 a.m. mass followed by pit-stops to buy the milk, newspaper and bread. Once he got back home, my mum, brother Jason, and I would gather, in varying states of wakefulness, around the dining table for breakfast. Newspaper sections divvied up, tea before us, we’d proceed to eat our brun maska (gutlis with butter).
Here’s how it has to be done:
Take a gutli and slice it with a serrated knife right down the middle to get two circle-y pieces. Spread enough Amul butter to raise your cholesterol levels by two base points, on both sides, stick back together and then cut vertically down the middle. Dunk one-half into a cup of piping hot chai – loose leaf with milk and sugar – gobble it up before it plonks back into your cup. Simply delicious!
You could also choose jam or cheese or an omelette or leftovers as a filler – use your imagination! But since there are no preservatives, you’ve got to eat it then and there; trying to use a morning-bought gutli at dinner-time to mop up some curry will only result in achy-breaky jaws. All the more reason to make another trip to A1 bakery...