My family is HOOKED on to this Maharashtrian quintessential staple snack & also food for some- Vada Pav! ! We never seem to get enough of this on our trips to India and honestly no matter how hard you try the flavor can never be replicated :(
Our summer breaks as kids were always my paternal place which is Pune and this used to be the most awaited time of the year for me and my siblings as we would get to spend 2 months with our cousins and uncles and aunts and I remember it as being the most pampered time of the year. Also the train journey from Ajmer to Pune used to be a major attraction, every station the train made stops at would come alive with the local vendors and stalls which would sell the local delights and the never ending calls by the tea vendors ,"Chaiiiiiiii Chaiiiiiiiii Chaiiiiiii" at every stop are vivid and etched in my fondest memories and the images come up even as I write this. I was always the ,"curious kid" and enjoyed every nuance of this 36 hours train journey and watched people very closely and waited anxiously for all the excitement to unfold as the train moved and we kept getting closer to our destination. One such stop which the entire family looked forward to was Karjat a city which is located half way between Mumbai and Pune and is the most popular place for Vada Pav aficionados. The vadas sold here at the Karjat station are usually small in size compared to the regular ones which are sold all over Maharashtra. They are always piping hot and I believe they start to fry them just before the arrival of the trains so the timing is perfect too. Apart from these I really don't think they are any different from the regular fair but again it is the ambiance and all the,"halla gulla" and the never ending queus at the vada pav stall that make these ,"extra special":) !
I could have not completed this post without a mention of this train journey,as this was a huge part of my growing up years and also the reason behind my fetish for vada pav which stays till date and even now the first thing when we are flying to India the first stop we make while driving from Mumbai to Pune is Lonavala the first place before the Mumbai pune expressway begins ,which sells excellent vada pavs and is open 24/7 and is packed with travelers no matter what time of the day it is.
Manasi was home for Thanksgiving break and we had gone to recieve her at the airport and I wanted to surprise her with something exciting , and I made these for the car ride back home. I had also packed them in a news paper( for once I did not want to think about the news paper ink) to give it that authentic feel. She got in the car and said she was hungry and I asked her to pull out the packet from the bag in the back seat , she was amused with the newspaper packaging but went ahead and squealed with hungry excitement on finding out what lay inside the drab newspaper packet.She did not waste any time in niceties and devoured her most favorite snack and gave a ," Thumbs-up" :)
I have browsed through innumerable recipes and also tried many at different occasions with my siblings but this recipe is as close as it can get to the Vada pavs from Karjat,Mumbai and Pune :) The secret ingredient is Rice flour,it just binds well with the gram flour and lends that extra bit of crunch to the vada.
So this one is for all the,"Mumbaikars & Puneites" let us all relive and revive the,"vada Pav" days and for those of you who have not yet tried this absolute addiction please do and I promise you will ask for more as the saying goes," yeh dil maange more"!
Here's what you will need to make these:
Ingredients For the potato masala:
1. Potatos 2 big boiled,peeled and mashed
2.Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
3. Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
4. Garlic one flake chopped fine
5. cilantro chopped - 4 tbsp
6. salt acc: to taste
7. garam masala: tip of the tsp
8. turmeric: 1/4th tsp
9. deghi mirch: 1 tsp
10: Green chili 1 chopped fine
11: asfoetida: a pinch
Ingredients for the batter:
Gram Flour: 100 gms
rice flour: 15 gms roughly 3 tbsp
baking soda/soda bicarb: a pinch (too much of it will end up in vadas absorbing more oil)
Degi Mirch: 1/4 tsp
salt: acc: to taste
Asfoetida: a pinch
warm water: 1/2 cup or as needed to make the batter which is not thin or runny but more like the pancake batter.
Oil for deep frying the vadas and some separately for making the boiled potato masala
1.Take a kadai/pan and add 3 tbsp oil.
2. when hot add asfoetida ,ginger paste,green chili and garlic along with all the dry spices.
3. Keep the mashed potato ready and add this quickly so the masala does not burn. At this stage you can turn off the flame,as the masalas get cooked in the hot oil.
4. Now mix the mashed potatoes well so that all the spices are evenly distributed.
5. when the aloo/potato masala has cooled down.take small portions of it and make lemon sized balls and keep them aside.
6. take the prepared batter and beat it well,meanwhile take the oil in the frying pan and keep it on high flame as you want the oil to be very hot.
7. once the oil has become very hot,reduce the fame to slow as you don't want the vadas to get browned quickly on the outside and runny or not cooked well on the inside.
8. take the lemon sized balls of potato masala and dip them in the gram flour batter and put them in the fryer one by one or two at a time depending on how many the pan and you can handle . Flip them over in between and fry them evenly
9. remove from the fryer and put them on a paper towel.
10. serve them with green chili and garlic and peanut powder( available in Indian grocery store)
Note: Maintain the temperature of the oil, you can increase the flame every now and then.
Method for green chilly served the authentic way
Take long green chilis and make slits in the centre.
take a frying pan and add very little oil just about 1 tsp,and saute the green chilis in this oil for 2 minutes or till the blisters start to appear on the chilis( small white patches) sprinkle salt on these.
Turn off the gas and cover the pan quickly so that the chilis get soft in the steam.
For the pav:
You can buy the potato buns or the authentic pavs from the Indian grocery store.