A deep fried potato patty and simple white bread , how much flavor can these pack ?? The answer is “plenty” , if you ever had the famous Mumbai Vada Pav . What started as a quick fix meal idea by a street food vendor , Ashok Vaidaya, some 50 years back has reached iconic status today. One day he stumbled on the idea to put the potato fritters (vada) that he was selling in a bun and served it with a generous sprinkling of spice powders and chutney . Needless to say , it was an instant hit . Roadside food vendors found it easy to churn these out quickly and the busy working class got a completely satisfying meal on the go. Today it is no longer dubbed as a poor man’s food , but relished and critiqued by foodies all over .
- Cook and mash potatoes
- Add fresh herbs and spices – ginger ,garlic , chilies , coriander etc.
- Form into balls
- Make a chick pea flour (besan) batter
- Dip the balls in the batter
- Deep Fry
- Slit the pav in half almost all the way
- Make a sandwich !
The preferred method is to cook the potatoes is in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the potatoes for 1 whistle . Cool and peel the potatoes and dice into big chunks. I prefer to use fresh ginger and garlic in general. If you have a fine grater this is easy – peel and grate. Fresh ginger garlic has much for flavor than the ginger garlic paste.
To add or not to add green chilies is up to yo. Add according to your heat tolerance level. The chutneys usually pack a punch. chutneys. Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan and add a pinch of mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle add the garlic and chopped green chilies. Fry for a minute and remove from heat before the garlic turns brown . Add a pinch of asafoetida(optional). Pour this hot oil with seasonings, turmeric, chopped cilantro and a sprinkling of salt on top of the chopped potatoes . Mix everything well to a lump free dough.
Now comes the batter – in another bowl mix the ingredients for the batter – gram flour , chili powder, asafoetida, and salt . Add enough water to make a fairly thick batter . Form the potato mix into lime size balls and flatten ever so little so they don’t roll. Place one potato ball in the batter and flip to coat the other side.
This is a good test for the thickness of the batter . If the batter runs off the patties leaving just a see through film it is too thin , add more gram flour . On the other hand if the ball gets glued to the batter and is difficult to flip it add more water to thin the batter.
Head enough oil in a kadai or wok to immerse the patties and deep fry them till lightly browned .
Lay everything out on the table and have everyone make it their preference. This is the type of food that you enjoy with friends – have a conversation around it. Not something you will want to tackle with fine china and cutlery 🙂
So here is the from scratch recipe for making Vada pav. It looks lengthy, but it is rarely that someone makes all these from scratch at one time. Chutneys , especially the tamarind chutney , is usually made in a larger batch than required as it keeps really well – up to a few months if properly stored. The garlic powder will stay fresh in an airtight container for a few days out side , and can be refrigerated for longer shelf life. The green chutney need s to be stored in teh fridge and keeps well for a few days .
Vada pav is a deep batter fried spiced mix of potato , slathered with spicy and tangy sauces and sandwiched between soft buns . This is a delicious vegan burger/ on the good food popular in many parts of India.
- 2 Potatoes Medium
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- 2 Green Chili to taste
- 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro
- 1 Pinch Asafoetida (Optional)
- 1/8 Tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Salt to Taste
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 1 C Chick Pea Flour (Besan)
- 1 Tbsp Rice Flour
- 1 Pinch Baking Soda Optional
- 1 Pinch Asafoetida Optional
- 1 Pinch Turmeric
- Water As required
- Salt To Taste
- 1/2 C Tamarind Lemon size ball
- 1 C Water
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Pinch Ginger Powder
- Rock salt To taste
- 1/4 C Jaggery
- 1 Cilantro Bunch
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Green chili To taste
- Salt To Taste
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 1/4 C Grated dry coconut
- 1 Tbsp Peanuts
- 1 Tsp Red Chili Powder OR To Taste
- 1 Pinch Coriander Powder
- 1/2 Inch Tamarind Piece
- 1 Tsp Oil
- Pav Buns
- Fried Green Chilies
- Spicy Garlic Powder : Heat 1 Tsp oil in a small pan and roast garlic cloves and peanuts till it begins to turn brown. Keep the heat on low and add the dry coconut and roast till it turns golden brown. Turn off the heat and add red chili p, coriander powder, tamarind and salt. Mix well and let cool. Pulse in a food processor/blender till smooth. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Store in an airtight container.
- Green Chutney : Clean cilantro in plenty of water and dry well using paper or kitchen towels. Place cilantro, garlic and green chili in the blender.Pulse a few times. Add the lemon juice and half the salt. Grind till smooth. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if required. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Sweet Tamarind Chutney : Soak tamarind in 1C warm water and set aside for 30 minutes. Gently squeeze spoon and strain to extract pulp, adding more water if necessary. Powder or grate jaggery and add to the pulp. Heat a pan and dry roast the cumin seeds remove. Powder the roasted cumin seeds and set aside. Add the tamarind jaggery pulp to the pan and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer until it becomes thick. Turn off the heat. Add the cumin powder , ginger powder and salt on top and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
- Cook the potatoes till fork tender. Peel and coarsely chop them into big chunks. Finely chop the garlic, cilantro and green chili.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop add the chopped green chili and garlic. Fry for a minute and turn off the heat. Stir in asafoetida pour the spiced oil over the potatoes.
- Add salt , turmeric and the chopped cilantro. Mash everything together to make a lump free mixture. Divide the mix into portions and form into lemon sized balls. Press and flatten these to form thick discs. Cover and set aside.
- In a medium bowl and mix gram flour, rice flour, baking soda, asafoetida, turmeric, and salt. Add enough water and stir well to make a lump free thick batter.
- Pour enough oil in a pan (or kadai) to immerse the potato patties and heat till the oil is almost smoking. Lower heat to medium . Dip the patties in batter, turn to coat all sides evenly. Place the patties in the hot oil gently. Fry till both sides are golden, flipping sides as needed. Remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels to catch excess oil.
- Split a pav bun horizontally and toast lightly. Spread generous amount of chutney on one half of the bun and place the vada on top. Add chutney's of choice or sprinkle sev (fried gram noodles) or fried green chilies or spice powder to taste. Top with the other half and serve 🙂
- Asafoetida is available in Indian grocery stores and can be omitted.
- These chutneys and chutney powders can be prepared ahead of time.
Take Pav buns , slice horizontally and toast lightly . Spread chutney of choice on the bread , place a patty and add a sprinkling of chutneys or spice powders . Serve fried green chilies .
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