An Ode to Pauruti

Posted on May 22, 2021  |  

In any Bengali middle class household in the 60s and 70s (and probably earlier), a quarter pound pauruti was ubiquitous as a cup of tea. Who can forget the chini (sugar) toast or deem pauruti (French toast) or even dunking a plain piece of pauruti in a cup of tea. Yum!

Pauruti was a rectangular loaf of bread with a slightly bulbous head. It came in different sizes based on weight - quarter pound, half pound, etc. I, like most other folks, was under the wrong impression that the Bengali word of feet (pa) was the etymology of pauruti. It’s not quite true. Later, I came to know that it either came from the Portuguese pau meaning bread or the Hindi pao meaning quarter. The word origin is still not settled.

Though I’m not sure if quarter pound paurutis are still being sold in the streets of Calcutta wrapped inside small paper bags, it will forever remain etched in my tastebud.