Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

It was those same difficult teenage years when my cousin A and I were both going through bouts of hormonal changes and incoherent longings to be with anybody who did not nag or reprimand us for everything. That included the Vada Pav wala for her, who would sometimes snuck in an extra vada since she was such a regular. The famous Shankar Vada Pav tycoon of Bombay’s Santacruz (West).

And when I say tycoon, I mean the best, most delicious Vada Pav wala I have eaten from during my once-in-year summer vacations to Raanga Pishi’s (Bengali for Father’s Sister) place in Bombay.

vada pav wala I am talking about the street food delight of this great Bombay Burger called Vada Pav, wrapped in a piece of old newspaper, oil marks dotting the paper you are so gingerly holding and eating from, all at the same time.

Cuz A and I were poles apart, but it was the love for that daily nourishment of vada pav that we got together and ran in our PJs to get our breakfast from Shankar, vehemently refusing to eat my Aunt’s “healthy, homemade” sandwiches.

Last evening for me was a mad case of vada pav lust. You cannot control my urges when I have them. P knows about them and never attempts to stop them. I had a good feeling when P agreed to go get some burger buns and I began boiling potatoes…

Here is how I make the famous Vada Pav, which quite literally is a potato patty burger. But thou shall only call it Vada Pav, for it shall not have the same taste by another name.

For the vada filling:

5-6 potatoes, boiled, and mashed
1 medium size onion chopped finely
2 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
4-5 green chilies chopped finely
Half cup chopped coriander
Juice of half lemon
5-6 curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
Quarter teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Vegetable oil

IMG_6060IMG_6061IMG_6063IMG_6066IMG_6067Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan, add the mustard seeds and let them change color, add the cumin seeds, asafetida, curry leaves and chopped green chilies. Fry for a minute before adding the chopped red onion. Let the onion become translucent before you add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the raw spell of the spices is gone. Add the mashed potato and fry. Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and lemon juice. I add the chopped coriander in the end after the potatoes are cooked since I want to retain the freshness of the coriander. Keep aside and let it cool.

For the batter:

Half cup gram flour
1 tablespoon corn flour (optional)
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
IMG_6068Mix everything in a bowl and slowly pour water to make a smooth batter, make sure its not runny. I use an egg beater to mix everything which really helps to avoid lumps.

Now for the potato patties or the vada:

With your hands, make golf-ball size balls with the potato mixture. Heat oil in a wok. Coat the potato balls into the gram flour batter and deep fry them in batches of 4-5.
IMG_6069 IMG_6070 IMG_6071 IMG_6073 For the two chutneys:

Coriander Chutney
1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves
6-7 green chilies
1 pod of fat garlic, peeled
Juice of one lemon

Clean and thoroughly wash the coriander leaves and green chilies. In a blender make a smooth chutney of all the ingredients except salt and lemon juice. Check for lumps and blend again if necessary. Add salt to taste and the lemon juice. I usually make the chutney before I venture on to the Vadas.
IMG_6015Tamarind Chutney
Half cup tamarind pulp
1 cup jaggery
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder

Cook all the ingredients in a saucepan on very slow heat. Add a little water. The tamarind chutney should have the consistency of tomato ketchup. Keep boiling the ingredients till you get the right thickness. Taste and adjust the salt and sweetness.

Both these chutneys can be stored in clean glass bottles in the fridge of course.

For arranging the Vadas inside the Pav:

I use regular hamburger buns for my Vada Pav. Spread the green chutney on one half of the bun and the tamarind chutney on the other. Place the Vada between the two buns and lightly press with the palm of your hand.
IMG_6074 IMG_6075 IMG_6077You don’t have to wait to make Vada Pav at home till a craving for them hits you! They are so good, you will be salivating by the time you reach the end of this post.

And seriously, I cannot imagine a better food gift for my tummy than the humble Vada Pav.


Nandini Raybaruah said...


Ambika said...

Hey Pree, thanks for the idea!! Yes, indeed roasted tomatoes would add a ton of flavor..will try that next time!

Sassy Fork said...

loved yr piece on the Mumbai Burger!

Debjani said...

Really nice recipe and I tried was great. Brings back childhood memories. Thank you