Some tastes of childhood you never forget. I remember the taste of early morning chapattis with tea. The chapattis would be prepared in corner of the old dining table itself, the tablecloth carefully folded back. Then, hot from the tahva, Polson‚Äôs butter would be applied on them a sprinkle of sugar. Then folded in a messy roll, the hot melting butter streaming out, I would dip it in tea and eat.
It is a taste I regularly try to recall, sometimes it works, most of the time it does not.
Chapattis are no longer made at home, forget on the dining table. I get them sometimes from restaurants where I may have been eating the night before. Sometimes from the house of friends, where I may have been invited for dinner, and to whom I tell shamelessaly that in the night, as also in the afternoon, I eat rice, chapattis I eat only in the morning with tea. So they pack some and give me. Sometimes, in Gujarati house, they give me chapattis with methi inside. That is also a childhood taste.
I do not warm them in the mornings. I have learnt that through experience, because if you warm them they become crisp like papads. And I eat them with Amul butter, which is not the same thing as Polson, nowhere near it. Amul has its own place, it is meant for pau bhaji (of my friend, Captain Dandekar, of the Cannon Pau Bhaji Stall at VT) and chicken makhanwall (murg makhawall).
I also remember, though this was between childhood and adulthood, eating brun-maska (or bunmaska) and tea at various Irani restaurants the Byculla Restaurant and Bakery, the Regal Restaurant, also at Byculla, the Stadium Restaurant at Churchgate.
The brun would be crisp and hard, you dipped it in the tea to soften it. Normally, I would finish one cup of tea in the brun only, then order another cup to drink. And the bun would have raisins in it. I do not know if the Bycull Bakery still does it, their buns would have biscuit crosses on top, like hotcross buns.
For that matter, the loaves of bread used to have tiny biscuits on them. Which is another childhood taste, we would be given one little biscuit per child to eat.
These days, most people prefer to eat pre-sliced and packaged breads, indigestible and lacking the aroma and taste of bread. I still prefer the and taste of bread. I still prefer the ‚Äúladi‚ÄĚ, the small loaves of bread, warm and soft to the touch, made by my friend, Zend M. Zend, of Yezdiar Bakery in Cowasji Patel Street.
But tea-time has lost its charms, without chapattis, without methi rotis, without Polson butter, with out authentic breads. I have to wait till the late evening, when a bottle of scotch is opened among friends, for some charm to return to life.