Aparna Nori documents the dying art of handmade bread-making in Goa.
On my first visit to Goa 20 years ago, I remember being woken up in the morning by a curious ‘poink-poink’ sound. A walk down the village road following the sound led to my discovery of the Poder, the local baker. Goan community is traditionally rice based and the practice of eating local Goan favorites like Xacuti and Sorpotel with freshly baked bread started only in the early 17th century. The Portuguese Jesuit priests, introduced a few families of the Chaddo community in the Salcete region, to the art of leavened bread and the profession since then passed down generations, across to families from other communities as well.
I spent a few days in search of bakeries that still bake the traditional way. There are few left, struggling to keep them working. Many converted to selling machine based bread or sold their businesses to non Goan families and migrated in search of opportunities elsewhere. But for the moment the ‘poink-poink’ of the poder’s cycle horn continues to be a familiar sound, at least in the small villages. The aroma of the freshly baked flat pita like poie, scissored and butterfly shaped katriche pao, soft and chewy pao, hard and bangle shaped kankana welcomes me each time I visit, and evokes a feeling of home.
Photos and words by Aparna Nori.
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