Bread has become a staple at the breakfast table in most Indian homes today, thanks to the convenience factor, finds RESHMA KRISHNAMURTHY SHARMA
Talk about a normal day in an urban Indian household, most will mention having bread as a convenient and natural choice for breakfast.
Obviously the change has made many women thank bread for excluding her from the hassles of preparing a full-fledged breakfast on a busy morning.
It is no longer surprising to find varieties of bread as part of the breakfast spread at a star hotel or the bakery around the corner doing brisk business. Moreover, there are enough patrons who find bread the most accessible, convenient and healthy option in their diet. Cities like Bangalore are finding a shift in stores selling breads.
Well-maintained specialty outlets like the chain of Daily Breads have driven home the point that bread is a product that can be had in delicious options and can be viewed as one of the edible and appetising foods available.
Reasoning her habit of consumption of bread daily at her home, Preethi Williams, homemaker and mother of three growing children says: “With crazy schedules in the mornings, it is difficult to prepare elaborate breakfasts. Bread is a healthy option, it is all the more better because you can add vegetables, salads, cheese and make it interesting even for children.”
Lalitha Vishwanath, a soft skill trainer in her late 50s says, “I think it is the concept of convenience.
“Food habits over the years have changed and it is no longer practical to stick on to traditional breakfast options like paranthas or rice items. We do accept that breads at our home are the only alternative as mornings are packed with eight lunch boxes to be sent out. Even if I had the time to prepare it, neither me nor my daughter-in-law would venture into it as we find bread ready to eat, and light on the stomach.”
There is also the notion that traditional forms of food, particularly breakfast foods, were digested more easily by people earlier who did a lot of physical work.
Down the ages
Says Dr. Swami, a fitness consultant: “Ages ago it was acceptable for people to consume heavy breakfasts or elaborate meals during the day. Today with most people doing desk work, everyone prefers a light and quick breakfast option, even for lunch.”
So how healthy is having bread as part of daily diet? Says dietician at Manipal hospital, Sreemathy Venkatraman: “Brown breads are a better option than white breads as at least 50 per cent of the nutrients are retained in brown breads. I always recommend those in the habit of regularly consuming bread to go in for whole wheat bread.
“But one should remember that it should be in moderate amounts and not take it as the only meal on a regular basis.
“However, to make it nutritious for children or for other family members, you could top bread with a cheese spread or peanut butter or just toss a vegetable sandwich.”
Talking about how the trend has actually caught on with Indian homes, Manish Gaur, director, Institute of Baking and Cake Art, says: “If you observe, bread is a food product that is gradually consumed across all socio economic groups. Right from the lower middle class who would be content with chai-bread, youngsters have started binging on varieties of sandwiches and you find urbanites picking up a loaf of bread every other day. It also stems from the natural attitude that urbanites have adopted — time and effort cooking food preparation at home.”
“What started out as a product primarily given for those who are ill, today it has become part of our daily diet,” he adds.
“The only thing is that one needs to be aware that brown bread is healthier than white bread and that there are couple of more interesting varieties of bread, which Indians are not even aware of. If specialty outlets or bakeries start introducing varieties like French bread, rye bread, or pita bread, one would have more options of having a healthy food product.”
Though most homes have made bread their regular dose of breakfast, it not uncommon to find people to have bread at other meal times, particularly to save time and enhance convenience.