Today’s post is all about a funny little story…..
For the 25 years that I spent in Mumbai, growing up, the number of times I have eaten a Vada Pav, is close to negligible. However, I’d like to say that I have extensively eaten the VADA inside…as a child, as a teen and as an adult.
Known as ‘Batata Vada’ across Maharashtra, these deep-fried snacks are in no way healthy, or low-cal…but they sure are tasty! So, they make a lovely addition for an occasionally indulgent meal or snack. These vadas, made of potatoes (called Batata in Maharashtra), are coated in a batter of gram-flour and deep fried, usually served inside a small bun called ‘Pav’ or ‘Ladi Pav’, inside which a spicy red masala is slathered.
My fondest memories of Batata Vadas are of eating them at this Udipi chain in New Bombay, called ‘Navaratna’. And that is how I’ve tried to recreate these Vadas, recalling the taste and not following a particular recipe. I also made a batch of mini Pavs, my first ones, and they were a great addition to these for a languid Sunday breakfast.
Batata Vada (and Vada Pav)
- Potatoes – 8, boiled, peeled and crumbled (NOT mashed)
- Garlic – about 15 to 18 cloves, chopped
- Curry leaves – 2 to 3 sprigs, leaves chopped
- Green chilies – 6 to 7, chopped
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Asafoetida/Heeng – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
For the batter:
- Besan/Gram Flour – 1/2 cup
- Salt – to taste
- Baking soda – a pinch
- Turmeric – a pinch
- Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- A tsp of hot oil
- Vegetable oil for deep drying
- Boil the potatoes with salt, and see that they’re soft, but not too mushy.
- Cool and peel the skins, then use your hands to crumble them into rough shapes, but don’t mash. (This is my personal preference, you may ignore it 😛 )
- Now in a pan, add a tbsp of oil, and when hot, add the mustard seeds and asafoetida.
- Add the garlic and chopped curry leaves and fry for a few mins.
- Now add the crushed potatoes, salt, turmeric, green chilies, red chili powder and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, combining everything well.
- Now take off the potato filling from the heat, and let it cool.
- Prepare the batter, by using a whisk to make a light, airy and coating batter, that should be flowy and not gluggy or too thick.
- Make even-sized balls with the potato filling, and keep aside on a plate.
- Heat a kadhai and add oil, that is enough for deep-frying.
- Take a spoonful of the hot oil and add it to the batter and whisk.
- Drop a small ball of batter and check if oil is hot.
- If it sputters and hisses, start dipping the vadas into the batter, coating them evenly.
- Let excess batter drip off, and then carefully slide each vada into the hot oil.
- Fry on both sides on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning the heat up for a minute or so, and when crisp and golden, take off vadas on to a plate.
- Drain excess oil, and serve hot.
Serving suggestions: Normally served with spicy Lahsun-Kopra masala, fried salted chilies and pav.