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Goan Pão

Homage to a great Goan tradition.

Te poder gele ani te unde gele – Old Goan saying
(Gone are those legendary bakers and with them their loaves)

Growing up in the Goa we had no use for the alarm clock. Our wake-up call came at daybreak in the form of Ponk! Ponk!, the horn announcing the arrival of the neighborhood baker on his bicycle. Piping hot bread delivered to our doorstep was something we took for granted. It was part of being Goan. The tradition still continues, although the quality of bread has considerably diminished (to keep up with the Goan taste).

The art of breadmaking is a legacy vouchsafed Goans by the Portuguese. The Goan pão is (rather, was) a culinary masterpiece. Pão is Portuguese for bread, and the Goan breadmaker is known locally as poder, an adaptation of the Portuguese padeiro.

Breadmaking in Goa has for centuries been the province of the Catholic community. It is a family tradition handed down over generations with the entire clan involved in the operation. Every village has its own bakery or two where you may drop in unannounced, reel in your pão straight from the furnace, deposit money, and be on your way, all in a matter of a couple of minutes.

The three main varieties of Goan bread are the soft and chewy pão (cube), the crisp undo (round), and the poie (whole wheat pockets). The undo is delicious dipped in hot tea, but it goes especially well with xacuti. Another intriguing form is what is known as katricho pão (lit. scissored bread) where the dough is shaped with scissors. Then there is the kaknam (lit. bangles), rings of crusty bread, so called because they tinkle like glass bangles when fresh out of the oven. The practice of leavening dough with toddy has been retired, alas.

The occupation has come under stress in recent times with the changing social and economic patterns. See Dr. Nandkumar Kamat‘s tribute to the Goan poder.

In 2007, my wife Veena and I spent time at a couple of poders’, one in St Inez near Panjim and the other in Saligao. Following the photographs is a slideshow.

Goan pão

Goan pão
5D, 24-105L

Piping hot unde

Piping hot and crisp unde
5D, 24-105L

Katryache pão (scissored bread)

Demonstrating katriche pão (scissored bread)
5D, 24-105L

Finished <em>katriche pão</em>

Finished katriche pão
5D, 24-105L

Poie (whole wheat bread)

Goan poie (whole wheat pockets)
5D, 24-105L

Prepping for <em>poie</em>

Prepping for poie
5D, 24-105L

Out for delivery

Out for delivery
5D, 24-105L


Click on the image to fire up the lightbox.

  • Vasant Hede - January 23, 2017 - 9:31 am

    This is a fantastic blog. Please help me and share details about Goan breakfast and its history if you have some links in that direction ….vasanthede1983@gmail.comReplyCancel

  • […] Scenes from the fishing village of Siridona in Goa. Clams – called khubey in Konkani – are usually turned into a delicious xacuti stew and eaten with Goan pão. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Image Source Blog.parrikar […]ReplyCancel

  • De Bakker | Susegaad - August 20, 2015 - 8:38 am

    […] Bakers have a special place in the history of mankind. They are not just the purveyors of food but also happiness. For a perspective on the Goan “Poder“, as the bakers are known in Goa, please check out Rajan Parrikar’s post. […]ReplyCancel

  • Siddeshwar - June 27, 2015 - 6:09 am

    Used to be a regular visitor to Goa between 2002 and 2004, used to work on projects in mines. I developed a taste for Goan buns, the hard ones; good nutrition and goes well with mirchi and batata vada.

    Lovely post, good pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Abhijit Prabhugaonker - May 18, 2015 - 12:43 pm

    sir I don’t know you and vice versa but I am a big time pao and undo.sad part is all outside bakers are making more money than amche goyche poder.
    I have been trying to make katriche pão and kakna.ReplyCancel

  • Shabbir Mansoor - December 14, 2014 - 8:41 am

    I am a die hard fan of Goan life and culture and the humble poie is the top of the list of my must have daily foods in Goa. Would appreciate if anyone can help me with the recipe and if possible to make these available in Bangalore. Mail me at or call me on +91-9035777220.
    Thank you Rajan for your lovely info.ReplyCancel

  • Arnold - October 3, 2014 - 3:11 am

    Can u please email me the above recipes of different breads with pictures as shown above in pdf format.ReplyCancel

  • liane - July 23, 2014 - 5:47 am

    As a student of history and as a Goan, i really appreciate your effort to photo document this dying traditional occupation..ReplyCancel

  • A Goan Sojourn | A Mad Tea Party - May 29, 2014 - 4:48 am

    […] procured them for me from her regular podar on my last morning in Goa.  There are many types of Goan breads – pao, poie, and undde, each of them the domain of family bakers, a tradition that is under […]ReplyCancel

  • Everard Carvalho - February 2, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Use a picture. A picture is worth a thousand words.
    Nearly everyone likes to “read” pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Anthony ALvares - October 14, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    ROME OF THE YEASTReplyCancel

  • Mervyn Maciel - March 26, 2013 - 1:23 pm

    Took me on a trip down memory. Remember the humble Poder with
    great affection. Thanks for those “tempting” picturesReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - March 5, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    There are still a few small bakeries left in some of the smaller towns, I have seen one as recently as 2012.
    Maybe these loaves need to be re-invented as artisan breads.
    They do have health benefits, I remember my mum, who was a diabetic, would always prefer to buy the poieReplyCancel

  • Srikantha Shenoy TV - February 6, 2013 - 6:53 pm

    Thanks. Pics drove me crazy. In Kapileshwarim as young unmarried professionals, the Pao made our day. Staple food even in remote villages. We miss it in Bangalore. Even in Mumbai where it’s poor cousin ‘Khadak Paav’ was available a decade ago, is now available only in select bakeries. Gen x hardly recognize it on their own and market is shrinking. May be some new age entrepreneur would reinvent it and introduce as ‘Goan Unde/ Katri Pao’ a la ‘Goli Vada pao’ now making quite a business in Bangalore.ReplyCancel

  • Richard Cabral - January 28, 2013 - 10:46 am

    Just a couple of days back I was composing a poem and here is the first stanza (unedited:

    Richard CabralReplyCancel

  • Antao - January 27, 2013 - 11:01 pm

    Thanks for publishing these photographs here.ReplyCancel

  • Thomas Pindelski - January 27, 2013 - 9:34 pm

    Lovely documentary and already, sadly, history. Flashed me back to my childhood in London when the Express Dairy milkman would ring the bell with fresh milk in hand while picking up the ’empties’. We kids would rush out to feed his horse an apple ….ReplyCancel

  • Mervyn Lobo - January 27, 2013 - 9:12 pm

    Rajan, you say that these pictures were taken in 2007. Ten years from today they will be used as evidence of a dead profession.

    I was in Goa in 2012 and the young person on the bike selling bread early in the morning could not speak Konkani. He was insisting that all the Siolim villagers speak to him in English, which he had only a rudimentary knowledge of. I later learnt that the village bread-maker could not find people to do the tough work in his bakery and could not sell the business either, so he leased the bakery to people from a southern state. I would like to be unbiased but the bread was dry and did not taste anything like it did 10 years ago.ReplyCancel

  • Tony de Sa - January 27, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    Its a pity that their umbrella organization does not make efforts to upgrade the knowledge base and technical know how of its members. The All Goa Bakers Union comes alive only when they want an increase in the price of bread.

    In the old days, the bread was tasty because toddy was used as a leavening agent. While toddy is difficult to procure today, perhaps some research may find a leavening agent that could help produce better tasting loaves. Often times, the yeast leavened bread tastes like cardboard.ReplyCancel

  • Marshall Mendonza - January 27, 2013 - 4:41 pm

    Thanks for documenting traditional goan occupationsReplyCancel

  • VM - January 27, 2013 - 3:40 pm


  • GERALD FERNANDES - January 27, 2013 - 3:18 pm

    Great pictorial homage to the common daily bakery products of Goa. Trust this traditional occupation is preserved through institutional encouragement.A MAC VAZ( Goan Feni Distiller) amongst bakers is needed ,to get geographical indication for ‘kundeache poie”- a speciality Goan Bread.ReplyCancel

  • Nandkumar M Kamat - January 27, 2013 - 3:06 pm

    I feel sorry when I visit a traditional poder. I feel like crying when I see the way they live and work. Tried to liase with their associations closely to get a welfare package. They are not really making profits on bread. This may be last generation of Goan poders with branded products slowly taking over. Your effort therefore is “true to goencho pav’ Rajanbab…noble and commendable. I feel hungry after looking at all these aromatic photographsReplyCancel

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