Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Vada Pav

Vada Pav in Mumbai, courtesy of the internet.

There is this wonderful weird street food common in the state of Maharashtra in India. Maharashtra would be the 12th largest country in the world if it were in fact its on country, by population size not by land mass. It is in Western India just north of Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and contains the city of Mumbai. This food is both very Indian and very Western colonialism inspired at the same time. It involves a well seasoned ball of mashed potatoes, battered in chickpea flour, deep fried and served as a small sandwich. The bun is schmeared with mango chutney on one side, a dry spice chutney on the other, and sometimes sliced onions. It is so good. I've never had one in India nor an Indian restaraunt, but one of my favorite Indian internet chefs, Chef Vah, taught me how to make it, through youtube.

Vada Pav

6 medium/small boiled potatoes

2 Tbl coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tspcumin seeds
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch hing (asofoetida)
1/2 tsp chili powder (i had a blend leftover- gujillo, ancho, chipotle although smoked chilis are not common in indian food..)
1 tsp salt
small bunch cilantro (i made without)
1/2 lime, juiced

4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 fresh green chili (jalapeno), diced

1 C besan (chickpea flour)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt

Boil the potatoes whole.

While boiling heat oil in a small pan. When hot, add mustard seeds. When they pop (a few seconds) quickly add cumin, curry leaves and hing. Stir for 20 seconds or so then add turmeric, chilis, garlic, ginger. Make sure the spices do not burn. Take it all out of the pan if necessary when finished or just let cool in pan if its not getting over done. 

(If you are in Philadelphia, you can get fresh curry leaves in the fridge at International food & Spice, next to 7-11 at 42nd & Walnut. If not, unless, you are in India, they are fairly hard to find and may be omitted. Madhur Jaffrey often substitutes basil for curry leaves for a different but still interesting flavor that is easier to find. I think the cilantro added later is probably enough fresh green herb if you dont have curry leaves though...)

When potatoes are fork tender, roughly mash them. Add all spices from pan along with juice of 1/2 lime, salt to taste, fresh cilantro leaves, and chili powder to taste.

Make a batter. Whisk besan, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Slowly add water and stir. It will get lumpy if you add all the water at once. Make it into a paste with about 1/2 C water first, then slowly add more until it is like a runny pancake batter.

Now form the potato mixture into little balls, we ended up with about a dozen. Dunk them in the batter and roll around to cover completely. It helps to have a spatula or spoon to cover, and only touch them with one hand so you at least have one clean hand to do the frying. Place a few at a time in hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, turning after 30-45 seconds. They will only brown slightly. Take them out to drain on old paper bags from the liquor store that are not an appropriate size to ever reuse for anything else anyway, but you never recycle them and they're starting to clog up your bag hutch because of how much alcohol you buy.

We cheated and didn't make the pav this time. We just used tender little dinner rolls. Cut in half or rip open and smear with condiments of your choice. I prefer ketchup, franks red hot and garlic salt. Kj did sour cream and tomatillo salsa, and some kind of salt.

This is our new jawn for the winter. They are really good! They are easy even though there is a bunch of ingredients and I wrote out a lot of directions. I just wanted to be thorough because I don't think most people that might read this have made these very often. I was surprised to learn that the leftovers actually keep very well. Reheat in a toaster oven  at work and use whatever condiments you can find in the break room. 


  1. yummmmmm, why do i have to be allergic to mango??? ugh.

  2. I havent actually made them with mango chutney yet. i only had friend homemade ground cherry chutney. Mangos are pretty good though, I am sorry...

  3. Wow....Yummyyyyyyyy
    vadapav, is a popular spicy vegetarian fast food dish native to the Indian state of Gujarat. It consists of a batata vada sandwiched between two slices of a pav.