A city resident in love with Brazil brings a delicious snack from the country to Mumbai's shores
Pao de queijos are gluten-free and chewy cheese puffs from Brazil
In 2004, Mumbai resident Shivani Bhansali spent a year as an exchange student in a tiny village in southern Brazil. Now, over a decade after her return, she is treating us to a Brazilian snack, pao de queijo, as part of her new venture, Bombar Breads.
Bhansali, who currently handles marketing and events for Le15 Patisserie, simply calls her creations bombas, which in colloquial Brazilian Portuguese roughly translates to "the bomb."
"The pao de queijo is found everywhere in Brazil. They''e made at home, sold at kiosks on the street and at cafes," says Bhansali, adding that these light, gluten-free breads are made with tapioca flour and kneaded with cheese. "They are chewy breads, and have a texture and consistency quite unlike regular bread."
Although Bhansali has been bringing out these little cheesy puffs of goodness at parties for years, she made her commercial debut with them at the recently concluded Nariyal Paani, an annual music festival held in Alibaug.
"We were at last year's Nariyal Paani, and I remember looking for a nice snack to munch on. At that point, my husband and I joked about being the hippie couple selling pão de queijo out of a stall for the event but it was all forgotten," she says. However, this year, when her husband sent her a message about the festival's last call for food stalls, she jumped at the chance.
"Pooja (Dhingra) and Pablo (Agular) of Le15 were immensely helpful. I'm not a chef, so I wouldn't have been able to pull it off without their support," she says, adding that she can't even remember how many pão de queijos they eventually ended up making for the festival.
For now, Bhansali is not taking orders, and plans on presenting her bombas only at pop-ups in the city. The first pop-up, held on Saturday, had her serving the snack with three types of flavoured butters — wine and shallots, herb and garlic, and chilli.
"Brazil has always been a big part of my life. I worked with the Brazilian consulate for a while before switching careers. So, it makes me happy that with Bombar Breads, Brazil can continue to be in my life."
LOG ON TO: Bombar Breads on Facebook (for updates on pop-ups)