Vada Pav is one of the lifelines of the Maharashtrian city of Mumbai, ranking right up there with the city’s bus transport and suburban railway systems. It is common man’s food, very pocket-friendly, easily available on the streets at any time of the day (or night). The Mumbaikars are known to grab a vada pav off a street-side stall, and eat it on the go, on the way to work or while travelling for personal errands. Today, I present to you the Mumbai vada pav recipe, which I prepared for the Sshhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.
For the uninitiated, vada pav refers to a deep-fried potato patty (batata vada) sandwiched between two buttery slices of thick bread (pav). Typically served bundled up in a piece of newspaper, along with fried green chillies and a dry garlic chutney, vada pav is a yummylicious treat much loved by all and sundry. Because of its resemblance to a burger, vada pav is also referred to sometimes as Bombay (erstwhile Mumbai) Burger. There are quite a few stories about how exactly the vada pav came into existence, but there is no doubt about the fact that it originated in Mumbai. However, today, vada pav is now commonly available across the length and breadth of India.
Let us now check out the famous Mumbai Vada Pav recipe.
Recipe courtesy: My Ginger Garlic Kitchen, with slight variations
Ingredients (makes 8-10 pieces):
For the batata (potato) vada:
- 4 large potatoes
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 green chillies
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon oil + more for deep frying
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
- A dash of lemon juice
- 1-1/2 cups besan or gram flour
- 2 tablespoons rice flour
For the dry garlic chutney:
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- 4 dry red chillies
- Salt to taste
- 8-10 cloves of garlic
- 4 tablespoons peanuts
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder or to taste
- 8-10 ladi pav
- Salted butter, as needed
- Sweet-sour tamarind chutney, as needed
- Spicy green chutney, as needed
- Green chillies as needed, to serve alongside the vada pav (optional)
Let us first get the dry garlic chutney ready.
- Peel the garlic cloves needed for the chutney, and keep them ready.
- Get a pan nice and hot, then turn the flame down to medium.
- Now, add the peanuts, sesame seeds, broken dry red chillies, grated coconut and peeled garlic cloves to the pan. Dry roast on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, taking care not to burn any of the ingredients.
- Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate, and allow them to cool down completely.
- Once fully cool, take the roasted ingredients in a small mixer jar. Add in red chilli powder and salt to taste. Pulse a couple of times, a second each time, stopping in between to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. Stop when you get a coarse powder. Remember to pulse and not grind constantly – grinding will turn the ingredients into a paste, but what you need is a coarse powder.
- Keep the dry garlic chutney aside for use in the vada pav later.
We will then get the filling for the vadas ready.
- Wash the potatoes thoroughly under running water a couple of times. Ensure that no dirt remains on them.
- Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a wide vessel. Fill in just enough water to immerse the potatoes.
- Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Once the pressure has entirely gone down, remove the cooked potatoes and allow to cool. Peel and mash them roughly. Keep aside.
- Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop the ginger and green chillies. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies to a paste in a small mixer, using a little water. Keep aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Now, add the mashed potatoes, salt to taste, turmeric powder and the ginger-garlic-green chilly paste. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Switch off gas. Mix in the lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. The vada filling is ready – allow it to cool down completely before using it.
We will now prepare the batter for the vadas.
- Take the gram flour, rice flour and salt to taste in a large mixing bowl.
- Add water little by little to get a thick batter that is not too runny. Ensure that the batter is free of lumps.
Now, we will prepare the vadas.
- Take oil for deep frying in a pan. Set it on high flame and allow it to heat up well.
- Meanwhile, divide the potato filling we prepared earlier into 8-10 equal parts.
- When the oil is nice and hot, dip a couple of the potato filling balls in the batter. Coat them evenly in the batter, and then drop into the hot oil. Fry on medium flame till the vadas are brown on the outside and well-done from the inside. You can fry about 2 vadas at a time, typically, without overcrowding the pan. Transfer the fried vadas to a plate.
- Fry all the vadas in a similar manner. Keep ready.
- If you are using green chillies, fry them on medium flame, in the leftover oil, till their skin blisters. Transfer to a plate and drizzle some salt over the fried chillies. Keep aside.
Now, while the vadas are still hot, we will assemble the vada pav.
- Cut one ladi pav into half.
- Heat a thick dosa pan, and add some butter in the centre. Reduce the flame to low and lightly toast both sides of the ladi pav in the butter.
- Spread some sweet-sour tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney evenly on both sides of the pav.
- Spread some dry garlic chutney on the bottom of the pav.
- Slightly flatten one vada and place it on the bottom part of the pav. Add some more dry garlic chutney on top of the vada.
- Cover it with the top half of the pav, and press down slightly.
- Serve immediately, with fried green chillies on the side.
- Prepare all the vada pav in a similar fashion.
- I have used ordinary red chilli powder in the dry garlic chutney. You may use Kashmiri chilli powder instead, for a deeper red colour and less heat.
- Any leftover dry garlic chutney can be refrigerated and stored for up to a week. It can be used along with rotis and parathas, or mixed in oil and served with dosas.
- Torn curry leaves can be added to the potato filling, if you so desire. I don’t, because we don’t enjoy biting into them.
- Skip the lemon juice in the potato filling, if you don’t prefer it. I add it, because we like it.
- I normally use store-bought ladi pav to make this dish. You can make the pav at home from scratch too, if you want to.
- Click here to get my recipe for spicy green chutney.
- Click here to get my recipe for sweet-sour tamarind chutney.
- You can prepare the dry garlic chutney, the sweet-sour tamarind chutney, and the spicy green chutney in advance and refrigerate it. This way, you just need to make the vadas on the day you plan to serve the vada pav.
- Any leftover fried vadas can be served separately or used in other dishes, later.
- The recipe for batata (potato) vadas stated above is the Maharashtrian way of making them. Other states – like Tamilnadu for instance or, say, Gujarat – have slightly different ways of making potato vadas.