An ode to hot toast and Amul butter

Nothing like hot toast and butter at home
I was down with viral fever last week as many were in Mumbai. I am better now.

I had lost my appetite then and my throat was sore. Meals were limited to khichudi and at times chicken curry without chilli. The khichudis made at home were pretty inconsistent. Once Banu made a dryish one in a hurry which was tasty but where the dal was uncooked. Not a good idea since my tummy was gone too. Then I made a khichudi one night which was properly cooked and soupy and brothy but tasted like sick people's food.

Thankfully the one thing I could bank upon on those days to cheer me up was good old toast butter.

Freshly made toast, straight out of the toaster, with butter applied on it and wolfed down immediately. The only thing which gave me instant and sure-shot pleasure in those under the weather days.

The toast was made with good old simple sliced bread from Bimbo, a local brand. The butter of course was the salty Amul butter which runs in the blood of all Indians.

Since I was not up to doing anything then and spent my time lolling on bed, I ended up getting a bit philosophical about toast and butter.

I realised that toast and butter is best enjoyed at home. That's the most assured way of getting hot toast from the toaster straight on to your plate. There's always a lag in restaurants between the time the toast is ready and when it is brought to your table. That's understandable. This means though that the toast is rarely brought hot to your table. Even in fancy places.

You can occasionally get hot toast at Candies but the eggs go cold by then as they toast the bread after the eggs are brought to the counter. The Irani bakeries like Yazdani possibly offer the best bread butter experiences to be had outside of home in Mumbai.

Plus restaurants feel the need to go the extra mile to justify their prices. Rarely does anyone offer simple white bread toast anymore. It has to be brown at the least or multi grain or a baguette or sunflower. Fancy, often dry and crumbly breads which we eat politely thinking that it is the done thing to do. Except that it never gives the pleasure of simple mass produced white bread. 

To top it, some posh places feel a need to serve their own house made butter. This is often unsalted and is white and doesn't talk to you the way good old Amul butter does. 

Perhaps restaurant owners feel that simple white bread toast and store bought butter won't wow customers. This is the reason why Theobroma, Soda Bottle Opener Wala and then Bombay Canteen all felt the need to reinvent the simple deliciousness of the unpretentious eggs Kejriwal that one gets in vintage Mumbai clubs such as the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. The basic eggs Kejriwal (fried egg on a slice of cheese on a toast, topped with finely chopped green chillies) which Jamshed Uncle introduced us to and gives us such boundless pleasure whenever we dine with him at RBYC.

Ironically, hot toast didn't feature in my childhood days and was yet a part of it.

I had grown up on Enid Blyton books and on stories of the characters in her books eating hot toast and butter or drippings and scones and tea while they solved mysteries. 

I finally had scones when I came to Mumbai at the Tea Centre and then some super ones these days at Bandra's Sassy Spoon.

We didn't have a toaster at home while growing up in Kolkata. My mother would toast bread on the wire grill used for making rotis. This was the done thing in Calcutta and the process was called paruti shyaka. The bread would get a bit charred and since we didn't know how cool 'char-grilled' was we would loathe it. The more preferred option was paruti bhaja or bread fried on a tava with vegetable oil. The closest one could come to the hot toast and butter of Enid Blyton's book.

Kolkata was a butter starved market in the 80s and I even remember a time when the local grocer rationed out butter to one per family of regulars per week. Cheese was even more premium and I had to make a cube last through a week for my lunches at school.

A lot of Bengalis added to sugar to toast butter. We didn't.

When I rented our first place in Mumbai, K's mom gave me her toaster. The toaster didn't have a pop up control so I had to guess when it was ready and switch it off. 

I lived in the house by myself for a few months before I got married and K moved in.

Every morning, before work I would fix myself a breakfast of eggs and bacon fried on a pan on the hot plate K's mom gave us and hot buttered toast. Those were the innocent early 2000s and I was in my mid 20s and hadn't heard of cholesterol.

It's been a decade and a half since then and we have bought 2 or 3 toasters on the way. These have had controls unlike our first toaster.

The joy that I get from eating hot toast and butter remains unchanged.
Update: There was a fair bit of interesting chatter on twitter when I shared this post. Sharing some of that below
  1. Nandita Iyer@saffrontrail 1 hour ago
  2. that addictive salty taste when the butter melts and sinks into toast, unparalleled :D
    1. growing up, it was always homemade white butter. On the rare occasion that Amul butter was bought, it was SUCH A TREAT

    1. oh gosh, the same story of bread being charred on the roti-making jaali, even in my tamil home :) Hated it!
    1. Gaurav Sabnis@gauravsabnis 1 hour ago
    2. Same same. "Loni" as it is called in Marathi.
    1. bread and butter.. Unparalleled and so many memories of childhood with it
    1. Lovely. I've heard about the mythical Polson butter that my mom raves about and says nothing we have now compares.

    1. yup & nothing comes close to this feeling-- eating buttered toasts.
    Gaurav Sabnis@gauravsabnis 60 minutes ago

    This post is not sponsored by Amul


    Unknown said…
    Plugging my own post, yes, but I wanted to share this with you because of philosophies about butter are so similar
    Anurag Mehrotra said…
    Love buttered toast but we have switched over to ghee with a sprinkling of salt and pepper (about 2 years now). I think toasted bread or bagels are tastier with homemade ghee. Try it sometime, if you haven;t done so already.
    Chetna said…
    To date , I end a breakfast buffet in hotels with a toast and butter . Yes, I prefer to stand near their toasters and get it fresh on my plate rather than waiting for a cold toast to be served at the table . And then waiting for the butter to melt over each slice. Best enjoyed crisp and fresh
    debjani said…
    This is the first time I have entered your blog to read it. It is so simple and wonderful. I could just imagine that wire rack, on which your mother toasted the bread..These memories are priceless. Took me instantly to my Jethu's house in Shyambazar, in Kolkata, where we used to come for our holidays! Loved this Kalyan!
    Kalyan Karmakar said…
    thanks for taking the time out for leaving the comment here too. I've had bread fried in oil but not ghee. Parsis often fry eggs in ghee
    Kalyan Karmakar said…
    yes, hotel buffets with their assemble line toaster machines are a good bet. We used them quite a bit in Italy as there was nothing else that was hot in the breakfast buffet
    Kalyan Karmakar said…
    Thank you so much and glad you liked the post Debjani. Your comment reminded me of our neighbor in Kolkata whom we call from Jethu. He had moved in from Shyambazar too
    Manisha said…
    I love having hot buttered toast on a Sunday times it is white butter :)