Mama’s Punjabi Recipe: Bread Crust Nashta (Bread Crust Spicy Snack)


One of the favorite carbohydrates for most people is bread, especially if it has a crust and is crispy to bite into, not the soft white variety that many people use to make sandwiches with. Indians call bread double roti after the two pieces of bread stuffed with vegetables or meat to make a sandwich, and a term universally used in the Indian Subcontinent to refer to any loaf of bread.

After the Europeans came to the Subcontinent, Indians became familiar with loaves of bread. From the Portuguese word “pao” (for bread) came the term Pav Bhaji, a Marathi dish made with leftover vegetables and lots and lots of spices, that was invented in the 1850’s for the textile workers coming off their midnight shift. In North India, where the staple food is wheat flour, bread became an instant hit.

But Italian and French breads like pain de campagne, pain complet, duomo or pagnotta offer a special treat in that they have very hard crusts. And this crust can be used to make a unique type of snack, although cutting off the edges of toasted bread can be a good substitute also. For many older people who are unable to eat the crusty parts, this is a chance to make a savory dish that can be eaten later.

The key is to keep the crust for a few days in a sealed container until enough pieces are collected. The rest of the recipe is very simple and easy to make and tastes almost like pav bhaji when it is ready. Try it and see for yourself!



• 1 small plate white bread crusts
Saadi dahin (plain yogurt)
• 2 tbsp mutter (green peas) – thawed if frozen
• 1 medium tamater (tomato) – chopped
• 1 small piyaaz (onion) – peeled and chopped
• 1 tsp tael (vegetable oil)
• Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper)



1. Cut off the crusts from the slices of bread and keep in a shallow bowl. Leave uncovered for two days to allow them to dry up.
2. Take some dahin in a bowl and beat it till it is thin.
3. Pour the dahin over the crust so that they are covered and soak for 30 minutes.
4. Heat the oil in a small frying over medium heat and throw in the chopped onions, stirring till they are light brown.
5. Throw in the chopped tomatoes and peas. Stir till they are tender and brown. Stir in the namak and mirch.
6. Scoop in the dahin covered crusts and gently stir into the mixture, making sure not to smash the crusts too much.
7. Cook for 2 minutes and then serve hot. Add your own garnishes.



For those who are on a salt restricted or salt-free diet, there are other alternatives to using lemon or vinegar to add flavor to their food. This is a recipe for a salt substitute that has been circulated in many places and is a bit spicy. I have added amchoor (dried green mango powder) to satisfy the needs of Indian palettes.
Mix together 5 tsp onion powder; 1 tbsp garlic powder; 1 tbsp paprika; 1 tbsp mustard seed powder; ½ tsp white pepper and ½ tsp amchoor and store in an airtight container in a cool place, but not in the fridge. Sprinkle over your food for a tastier and spicy meal.


mamas recipe inside3

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her late-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi vegetarian recipes for future generations.