Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Poee (Goan Bread)

Goa holds a special place in my heart – we planned our honeymoon in Goa because our dear friends A & S were getting married there the week after our wedding – what better way to start our married life than attending a true blue Goan wedding! It was a fabulous time and we have returned many times since then – always coming away with a yearning to stay back for just a little more time. Goa does that to you. It also leaves the bride and groom locked out of their room on their wedding night, but that’s another story!

We did the touristy thing only that first time – ditching the regimented hotel tour after the first day and preferring to go around on bikes, making up our own itinerary. The churches and temples truly went beyond being mere monuments and I could feel the sense of history and of so many lives and cultures intertwined.

Subsequent visits have been just about not going anywhere except the beach and the shacks, eating and drinking in the company of friends, snoozing on the sands after a dip in the sea and NOT expecting anything to happen on time. Whether it’s been a visit to bring in the New Year with friends 5 years back or attending a wedding this year, we have enjoyed every visit. And know we will be back for more of the sea, sand and susegad - a Konkani word which refers to a laid back attitude and an unhurried pace of life.

Goan cusine is a lesser known area of Indian cusine in my opinion and didn’t get it’s rightful due for a long time. I have always loved eating at my Goan friends’ homes and the Gomantak thali places in Mumbai (I used to spend so much time there and then lived in Bandra for 3 years; Mom was convinced I would end up marrying a Goan!) and though not a great meat eater, have liked many of the dishes they prepare.

While hotel food in Goa is more accommodative to vegetarians, street food is almost always geared towards the meat eaters! Fried fish and fresh batter fried calamari, steaming fish curries and rice, chicken cooked in different styles, lamb vindalhos and pork sorpotels – and all this often accompanied by the rustic Goan bread – the butterfly shaped Poee. Similar to the Pav/Pau made famous by Mumbai’s famous Pao Bhaji, this bread is soft and spongy and can be found in shops as well as the small bakeries in Goa.

While slowly getting accustomed to the chilly days in Delhi as winter is setting in and mentally dreading the even colder temps to come in January, I had this sudden urge one lazy Friday when the three of us had bunked work and school, to bake something; as if the warmth of the oven might permeate the house too. And what better “warming” food to bake than bread!

I had just picked up Madhur Jaffrey’s book Flavours of India from the library and it had a recipe for Poee which seemed just the ticket for my mood.
I looked for other recipes on the net which might give a whole wheat flour version, but surprisingly couldn’t find any (I did find this recipe which is quite close to Jaffrey’s recipe). So I decided to adapt the recipe on my own – after all bread is usually quite forgiving as recipes go.

I replaced a little less than half of the quantity of all purpose flour with wheat flour and half of the water quantity with milk. I also upped the quantity of yeast by one more teaspoon and brushed the tops of one batch of bread with a tsp of butter for a golden brown crust.

The first batch which I baked for 20 minutes at 220 C came out a bit crisper than what I wanted, so I baked the next batch for 15 minutes and reduced the temperature to 200C and they turned out softer.

Though I quite liked the consistency as it was this time, the next time I might try increasing the baking powder by one more teaspoon just to see whether they become spongier.

The bread was good the next day too and when I warmed it up with a pat of butter inside it, my 2 year old couldn’t have enough of it. The brown crust and the soft insides are really satisfying and the lovely smell of the bread baking filling the house is incentive enough for me to bake this again and again.

The bread is great to eat with hot curries and in a kind of reverse planning, I started looking for a dish to accompany the Poee after I had finished baking them. I picked out Chicken Xacuti (Recipe here) from Madhur Jaffrey’s book again ; together they made a delicious meal.

Poee - Recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Flavours of India

Makes 6-8 poee


Maida (flour) – 3 ½ cups (I used 1 ½ cups wheat flour and 2 cups maida)
Active dry yeast - 1 tsp (I used 2 tsp)
Salt – ½ tsp
Water – 1 ½ cups (I used 1 cup water and ½ cup milk)
Sugar – 1 tsp


1. Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water and then sprinkle yeast over the mixture,mix well and set aside for 10 minutes till it is foamy.
2. Combine the flour and salt in a big bowl, add the yeast mixture and milk/water to this and mix well. Knead the dough till it is soft, adding a splash of water if it is too dry. Keep some flour handy and add a little at a time if it seems too wet. Knead well for about 5 minutes and then roll into a large ball, cover with oiled cling wrap or a damp cloth and keep aside in a warm place for about 1 and half hours till it doubles in size.
3. Knead the dough again and divide into 6-8 portions. Roll each portion into a round and flatten a bit, then make a vertical slash over the top in the centre with a sharp knife.
4. With your fingers at the vertical slash, pull the dough apart gently from the centre to the sides. The ball will now look like an open book.
5. Repeat with all the portions and place on a greased baking sheet and set aside in a warm place again till it rises – about half an hour to 45 minutes. Each portion will now look like a butterfly.
6. Sprinkle a little flour on top of each and bake in a pre heated oven at 200-210 C for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve as breakfast bread or as an accompaniment to a curry dish for a meal.


Meera said...

This bread recipe looks wonderful. I am going to try it.

Miri said...

Its really simple Meera, do let me know if you do. I intend experimenting some more too...

Pooja V said...

I am a goan and i love your blog :). Btw its not Poee its poLi..yeah will call this version of bread poli instaed of regular chapati.

Miri said...

Thanks Pooja!

And thats the first I have heard of Poli - thanks for telling that, have to check out the Poli/Poee confusion!

Anonymous said...


i was doing a search on Poee ( I had never heard about them before) after I saw it in Flavours of India & I came across yours. Aren't they delicious??

I made & posted mine just today. I think they taste much better with simple butter or as sandwich rather than with a curry...

Meera said...

tried your poee bread. Came out really nice. have blogged about it too.

musical said...

Lovely post and recipe, Miri!

Miri said...

Thanks Meera and Musical :)

Unknown said...

Pooja's right; it IS "poli". And wonderful it is, too - like all things Goan!