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From Shahi Tukda to Dahi Toast: How Indians desi-fied humble white bread

Across the country, bread is used imaginatively and prolifically to drum up a range of quintessentially desi treats, some of them iconic.

At the risk of being permanently banned from the league of serious gastronomes, I shall go ahead and admit this – I swear by good old white bread. Few things, for me, can match the delight of crunching into a crisp toast slathered with salted butter. Except perhaps, biting into a crisp toast topped with a thick layer of fresh malai and a liberal sprinkling of crunchy sugar. When it comes to such unpretentious, comfort-laden treats, fancy breads simply don’t cut it. Besides, when I was growing up, white bread was the only kind that was readily available.

We bought ours from the neighbourhood grocery store that stocked bread from the trusted Anchor and Modern Bakeries. For the better part of my childhood, there was no fancy toaster in our old-fashioned kitchen with its soot-stained walls and built-in, charcoal-fuelled unan (clay hearth), which catered to our large joint family. Bread would be toasted on the tava just like chapattis, until one evening when my uncle walked in with a fine-looking Morphy Richards pop-up toaster, dark red in colour. The next morning was peppered with the continuous sound of toasts popping up.

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Tags: #food, #india
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