Vada Pav is a quintessential Mumbaiya savory snack that transcends the barriers of caste, creed, religion, financial status and is relished by millions of Mumbaikars on a daily basis. Vada Pav is an emotion, a feeling that is hard to put forth in few words and can only be experienced.
From a humble beginning when it was sold for few paise on streets of Dadar to being sold in a chain of outlets of Goli Vada Pav where it is fried in automated fryers, Vada Pav has undergone a lot of changes but its popularity has remained unaltered.
Vada Pav has evolved with the city of Mumbai, the city in which it was born. Vada Pav is a testimony to entrepreneurial mind and never say die spirit of Mumbai. In late 60s when Mumbaikars were striving for upholding the Maharashtrian pride and to retain Mumbai within the statehood of Maharashtra, that period also saw ascension of a political party- Shiv Sena in Mumbai. One of the core ideology of Shiv Sena was inculcating a sense of Marathi pride in the locals and encouraging them to imbibe entrepreneurial spirit and many resident Mumbaikars were inspired by this idea.
One of them was a gentleman named Ashok Vaidya who deeply inspired by Shiv Sena philosophy decided to experiment and came up with this unusual combination of batata vada served with chutney lathered split pav. He offered this combination of meal at a measly amount of 20 paise (until few years ago this Vada Pav was served at rupee 6, a rise that Vaidya family attributes to increasing inflation during these past few decades). He devised this meal keeping mill-workers, who would throng the area of Dadar-Parel and proceed to their respective mills. These workers didn’t had enough time to sit and dine and needed something that they could carry along and would taste equally delicious even when it gets cold. This chutney laden Pav stuffed with spicy batata vada fulfils all these parameters and hence was an instant hit amongst Mumbaikars.
While invention of Vada Pav by Ashok Vaidya in Dadar provides for a fascinating read, another riveting tale that needs to be told originates about 50 kms from Dadar in city of Kalyan. In 1968, Yashwant Vaze, hailing from a lower-middle class Maharashtrian family was married to Uma Gondhalekar. Having exhausted his savings and taken loan for his marriage Mr. Vaze was under stress to repay his loan and he along with his wife decided to jump into business of selling ‘Batata Vada’.
Mrs. Uma Vaze was a proficient cook and batata vadas made with her secret spices were soon a hit. The Vaze duo began serving these vadas from their own home- from the window grill that opened up to the road. Window is known as ‘Khidki’ in Marathi and hence these Vadas, fondly acquired the name of ‘Khidki Vada’. Now after 5 decades , Khidki Vada is a brand name and a registered trademark, a first of its kind initiative wherein a vada business has a registered trademark. Read More
Vada Pav, for an uninitiated, could prove to be a beautiful deception. Soft and puffy Pav conceal the zesty and spicy jolt of flavors that strikes one’s taste buds as they dig into Vadas. If spiciness of Vada seems too hot to handle, then there are contrasting flavors of chutneys to gently caress your taste buds. Green and Red Chutney play a critical role in balancing the spiciness and you are left wondering in amazement at the culinary marvel that you are holding in your hand. Such is a reputation of this dish that it had prompted celebrated late Chef, Author and travel documentarian, Anthony Bourdain, having tasted vada-pav for first time, to exclaim in utter disbelief- ‘In all humility, this is probably the best Indian food I have eaten.’ While his claim could have said to be an exaggerated claim of a foreigner but you get my point, right?
Now after having set the context, I believe it’s the time we must look into the recipe Mumbaiya Vada Pav. Here’s a step by step recipe of Vada Pav. Check out the recipe video for some useful tips as well.
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- 500 gms Potatoes- Cleaned and Boiled
- 1 Ladi Pav (Soft Rolls)
- 6-7 Green Chilies
- 1-tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1½ inch Ginger root
- 12-15 Cloves of Garlic
- 10-12 Curry Leaves
- 1-tsp Mustard Seeds
- 3-4 Fenugreek Seeds
- ¼th-tsp Asafoetida Powder
- 1-tsp Turmeric Powder
- ¼th tsp Sugar
- 1-tsp Lemon Juice
- Salt to taste
- ½ Cup Fresh Coriander Leaves-chopped
- Oil for deep frying Vadas
- 1 cup=100gms Gram Flour
- 2-tbsp Rice Flour
- ½-tsp Carom Seeds
- 1-tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1-tsp Salt
- Water as needed
- Mint-Coriander Chutney
- Tamarind Chutney
- We will begin by dry roasting Gram flour in a pan. We will roast it for couple of minutes. This will enhance the flavor of covering for Vadas. Remove after 2 mins.
- In a large bowl, put roasted gram flour, rice flour, carom seeds, turmeric powder and 1-tsp salt. Mix well. Now add 1-tbsp hot oil and mix again.
- Add water and prepare a batter of medium consistency. We have used 1 cup water for making batter. Whisk well for 7-8 mins. Cover and keep it aside for 15-20 mins.
- Now peel off the skin of boiled potatoes and then grate it.
- Now, we will make a coarse green masala. Grind Green chilies, ginger, garlic and cumin seeds into a coarse paste.
- Heat 1½ tbsp Oil in a Pan. Add Mustard seeds, Fenugreek seeds, chopped curry leaves, Asafoetida powder and fry for 1-2 mins. Now add green masala paste and cook till we get rid of its raw smell.
- Now add turmeric powder, some chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Cook for 1-2 mins.
- Now add grated potatoes, sugar and salt to taste. Mix all the ingredients well and cook for couple of mins.
- Add lemon juice, some more coriander leaves and mix well. Remove from heat and allow it to cool before we shape it into Vadas.
- Take a small portion of Potato mixture and shape it into round balls. Flatten it between your palms and shape it now into flat tikkis (or vadas). I have formed 10 Vadas
- Put Oil on medium heat. Once it gets heated we will fry some Churas- steady and random drop of gram flour batter forming into shape of boondi. These Churas will be used for making Vada Pav chutney. Fry until Chura becomes lightly brown in color.
- Now dip Potato Vadas in batter and coat it well. Gradually drop coated vadas into medium hot Oil and fry until Vadas get cooked and become slightly brown (2-3 mins).
- Vada Pav Chutney:- In a grinder jar, add 1½ tsp red chili powder, 5-6 Cloves of Garlic, Salt to taste and fried chura. Now, grind this into coarse powder. This is Vada Pav Chutney
- Cut each Pav in middle. Apply chutneys- green and sweet, and some vada pav chutney. Put some Chura on top. Now, put fried Vada between the Pavs and serve with fried green chilly.
Click to watch recipe video