It is quick, cheap, filling and most of all delicious and many a Mumbaite will have this for a quick lunch on the go. I practically lived off this stuff during my training in that city.
I have tried to create my favorite vada pav recipe. There are a lot of vada pav recipes on the web and they are all pretty much the same except for adding little more masalas or different chutneys. This is based on Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe . He is the king of Indian cuisine and I do love his recipes.
You can use dinner rolls or burger buns, in India they use the 'ladi pav'. If you are using the dinner rolls , you can make your vadas a little smaller, however, if you are using burger buns, like me, make the vadas slighly larger.
Try this popular Mumbai Burger and have it the mumbai-style with a hot cup of chai. This dish brings back so many fond memories.
For the batter
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour / gram flour / besan
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder ( I used cayenne )
1/8 tsp baking soda / soda bicarbonate
1 tbsp hot oil ( heat the oil in a small pot, make it hot but not smoking )
salt, to taste ( I used about 3/4 tsp )
1 - 1 1/4 cup water ( to make a thick batter )
For the vada
6 -7 white potatoes, boiled, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp paste of ginger + garlic + green chilies ( Thai green chilies / hari mirchi ) ( No hard and fast rules here, you can change the quantities according to taste ) *
1/4 tsp turmeric / haldi
a pinch of asafoetida / hing
1 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste
oil for deep frying
(* It is very difficult to grind into paste such small quantities. So you can also finely chop 3-4 green chilies, 3 pods of garlic and 1 inch of ginger as substitute. Or you can go ahead and grind a large amount of this paste and freeze the rest in your freezer to be used at further dates. I usually place about a tbsp of paste on cling film and freeze it. When needed I just drop one frozen or thawed tbsp of this paste in my sabji.)
- Dry lasun chutney, Green mint chutney, red garlic chutney and / or tamarind chutney
For the batter
- Mix the gram flour, turmeric, red chili powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add the hot oil , mix it in and add the water to make a thick batter ( a little thicker than pancake batter ). Cover and set aside.
For the Vada
- Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the hing to the hot oil, the prepared paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies and turmeric powder. Saute this paste for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not stick at the bottom of the pan and get burned.
- Next add the roughly chopped potatoes and salt to this and stir it all well. Let it sit on medium heat for about 1 minutes and then remove it.
- After removing it from the heat source, add the chopped cilantro and lemon juice, mix it all well and let it cool.
- Once cooled, using your hands, divide the mixture into 10 parts and form about golf sized balls out of it and keep it on a plate and set aside.
- Heat oil for deep frying. I have an electric stove so I set my heat at medium high. To check if the oil is ready, drop a little bit of the batter in the oil, it should sizzle and rise to the top immediately. This means the oil temperature is right for frying.
- Now take one ball of the potato mixture and dip it in the batter, coating all sides. Handle this gently. Lift the batter-coated ball out of the bowl, holding it over the bowl for 10 seconds to let any drips of the batter fall back in, immediately transfer this ball to the hot oil. Slide it in gently as you do not want hot oil splashing !
- After a minute turn it in the oil and fry both sides till it turn golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on an absorbent paper towel. Repeat the same for the rest of the potato balls. You can fry more than one at a time depending on the size of the wok / fryer.
- The Vadas are now ready for assembly. Serve them preferably warm.
- Open up a burger bun or dinner roll and slather on some mint chutney ( available at any indian grocery ) on one half and red garlic chutney on the other half ( this is also available at the indian grocery stores ).
- Place a warm vada on one half and sprinkle with the dry lasun chutney ( dry garlic chutney ). Cover with the other half of the bun and serve with toasted green chilies**, for those who love more heat...
** You can roast Thai green chilies on a naked flame till it starts to blister and develop dark spots on it. Or you can dip the green chili in the gram flour batter and deep fry it along side the vada.