Even though I haven’t quite grown up eating this “burger”, very often it makes me wonder as to when and how I grew to like it. Its often true that the enthusiasm of your loved ones rubs off on you, more so when you love to please them and I believe that’s exactly what happened here. Mention Vada pav and its almost impossible to miss the look of longing and the irresistible urge in the eyes of Mumbai-ites or more broadly Maharashtrians. What better reason to prepare this delicacy than to satisfy the quench of those Vada Pav thirsty eyes?
This very popular, universally-loved street food needs no further introduction. The legend of Vada Pav goes back to mill workers in Mumbai….then known as Bombay. Supposedly, it originated as a quick to-go snack/ meal for people on the run. Slathered with exquisite chutneys, this flavorful burger worked as the perfect on-the-go meal. Quite similar to the burrito or even the original sandwich origin. Any soul who has savored it would know, that you don’t really need to grow up eating it to crave for it.
I exactly wouldn’t say that I was completely alien to this Indian version of the burger. The star of this dish-the Vada is eaten very frequently as a snack at home. Its lovingly referred to as “Alu chop” and of course any occasion was fit to either make it or order it from the closest sweets stall. Whoever has eaten the alu chop with “mudhi” or puffed rice, would remember the meld of flavors in the mouth when you bite into the crunchy puffed rice along with the savory and spicy fried potato balls. They make for a perfect snack to welcome any guest or to satisfy your urge for some fried spiced potatoes encased in chickpea flour. Pair it with marinated onions in lemon juice and chopped chilies and this snack wouldn’t ever like to leave you.
So one eventful Saturday afternoon while reminiscing about the various street foods made us so nostalgic that we delved into trying this out. Armed with some help from my Ma along with valuable inputs of friends who have grown up eating this delicacy, I set on to try my hand at this.
An indulgent Maharashtrian street food, Vada Pav is our very own spin to the burger. Slathered generously with exquisite chutneys, the Pav or the bun serves as the perfect carrier for the flavorful crispy potato dumpling fried in a spiced chick pea flour batter.
For the filling:
For the batter:
- Mix in all the ingredients for the batter and keep aside for 10-15 minutes. This gives the batter enough time to mix well and for the baking soda to work.
- For the potato mixture: Boil the potatoes till just done and keep aside to cool. Mash the potatoes when cooled.
- In the meantime, heat oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and when the seeds start spluttering, add in the chopped onions. Once the chopped onions look translucent (1-2 minutes), pour in the ginger-garlic paste. Add in the turmeric powder, salt, chili powder, green chilies and sugar, all dissolved in 2 T of water.
- Tip: Its very important to cook the paste thoroughly. One easy way to check, is to sniff and check if the raw smell disappears. Also, the oil starts floating, once the masala is done. Keep stirring the paste consistently and add in tiny amounts of water to avoid it from sticking to the pan.
- Now add the masala mixture to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Keep aside for this mixture to cool properly before frying the vadas.
- Tip: Using a cold potato mixture for the vadas ensures that the batter sticks to the potato filling and makes for cohesive vadas not the ones where the casing falls of the filling.
- Heat up oil for frying. Make small rounds of the potato filling, dip it in the batter and fry it over medium heat. It takes about 30-45 seconds to fry one vada.
Khajoor Imli chutney: ~Sweet and slightly tangy, date chutney~
Hari Chutney: ~Spicy and savory, cilantro chutney~