From childhood till old age, one of the most constant foods in everyone’s diet is bread; a mixture of flour, salt and water that’s been fried, roasted or baked. Often taken for granted but the foundation of a balanced meal, bread is eaten in many forms in India, whether soft puffed rotis, ghee smeared parathas, methi flecked thepla, rustic grainy bhakris or deep fried puris. Even white sliced sandwich bread has taken on an iconic status with roadside sandwich vendors in every city.
Around the world too, in every nation, bread baskets are filled with unusual and intriguing types of loaves that contribute to daily meals. In eating and cooking with these breads, one can take a virtual trip to distant lands. Imagine enjoying the best of the Mediterranean, Italy or France in the comfort of your kitchen. It is certainly enough to set aside the processed sliced bread in favour for these artisanal loaves from around the world.
Soft pita baked to form a pocket is a classic of this region and a vehicle for numerous delicious fillings like fried falafel with creamy hummus and pickled vegetables or chickpeas and greens or leftover meat and sauce. Or gently warmed and topped with mashed avocado and half fried egg makes for a great breakfast. Cut into triangle, it can be baked into pita chips to serve with tangy muhammara. Thin, crunchy and flecked with sesame seeds is the dried version of lavash. It’s the perfect appetizer with a collection of dips or even as a quick snack to eat on the go.
Italy is home to two classic, universally beloved breads. The ciabatta is a long, wide loaf with a soft inside and thin crust and looks a lot like a slipper. Slice, butter and enjoy with a hot beverage, or dip into egg wash and pan fry for French toast (its soft crumb soaks up the egg while the edges hold their shape). Cut up leftover bread and combine with diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil and a vinaigrette for the classic panzanella salad. Simpler than a salad but just as filling is focaccia torn up and dipped in extra virgin olive oil. This flat, inch thick bread is studded with herbs like rosemary or ingredients like tomatoes, onions, olives to name a few. Cut into squares and serve as a snack or slit in the middle for a sandwich.
Croissant, Baguette, Brioche. Indulgent and sophisticated, these breads are perfect as an epitome of French food. Eating a butter or cheese croissant with a cup of coffee in a French café is a top rated cultural experience, as is stepping into a bakery for a fresh baguette. Traditionally eaten for breakfast with butter or jam, all three breads are also versatile ingredients. Flaky buttery croissants taste delicious smeared with cream cheese and lined with thin layer of smoked salmon. Spread soft cheese with ham in crusty baguette for a classic sandwich. Soft, buttery, savoury-sweet brioche is made from enriched dough and is perfect as a dinner rolls with soup, braised meat or vegetable stew.
The bagel represents more a people group and a nation. The Jewish tradition of eating unleavened bread birthed this chewy, ring of bread in Eastern Europe from where it spread most notably to the United States, where people enjoy it for breakfast.
As purveyors of authentic produce from around the world, Godrej Nature’s Basket works hard to make available a wide assortment of freshly baked breads. We hope this trip around the world encourages you to try a new type of bread soon!