Once upon a time in a land far far away, lived a beautiful girl of the earth and the East. For her eighth birthday her mother gifted her a water buffalo who she named Water Lilly. As the narrator of this tale is scared of water buffalos, because they give you a "look", was surprised at Water Lilly's gentle nature and even petted and fed her some freshly cut grass. But this story is not about the narrator but the girl who was born of the earth and the east.
A month after Water Lilly entered the little girl's life, she gave birth to a beautiful baby buffalo boy who she named black beauty. The girl fell in love with the boy.
Once Black Beauty was confortable and ready to be taken down to the river, the girl, followed by her friends, led mother and son down to the river to bathe.
But sadly, the buffalo would not bathe! Water Lilly refused to go into the water, and Black Beauty just wanted to go home. So the girl was sad.
But in her heart she knew, she could always try tomorrow...
When I last visited my grandparents in Pune , I heard about the Roat . And heard that the bakery in Ganeshpeth is over a hundred years old. I found this interesting and thought I should go check it out.
The Roat Bakery, situated near the Meera Datar Durgah (interesting name!!) sold only Roats. A Roat is a sort of large cookie but very rich and nutritious ; made out of Rava (semolina), mawa, ghee, sugar, milk, and dry fruits. It's usually made around the time of Muharram, where (if i understood correctly) these Roats are used as a kind of bargaining chip with God: "If I get a job, I will give 300 Roats out to the poor" etc.
The Bakery, owned by the Shaikh family for 5 generations, is 140 years old and Roat making is an old Iranian tradition. The tradition of bringing in your own ingredients to be mixed and baked, is however, distinctly Pune and that is what made it very quaint. The bakery itself spilled out behind the shop and into the corridor and staircase, where the family lived, but the old wood fired ovens were still in use. People come from all over Maharashtra to make and bake Roats from them. What makes them different from the original Iranian Roat ? 140 years ago, the current owner's great great great grand father reformulated the Roat. He added the rava, dry fruits and ghee, which made the Roats softer and moist. Now, five generations later, the Roat shop is still going strong, where, especially during Muharram, they're so full with orders, there is no room to stand!
Customers waiting for their ingredients to be mixed into dough.
The mixing of the Roat dough.
Making the Roats.
This man claims he can put 53 trays into the oven in 2 minutes. I didn't time him, but he was pretty fast!
Putting them into the ancient wood oven.
When the Roats are out of the oven, they have to cool before the waiting customers take them home.