July 9, 2012

The mighty Vada Pav & the dainty Alu Chop

Even though I haven't quite grown up eating this "burger", very often it makes me wonder as to when and how I grew to like it. Its often true that the enthusiasm of your loved ones rubs off on you, more so when you love to please them and I believe that's exactly what happened here. Mention Vada pav and its almost impossible to miss the look of longing and the irresistible urge in the eyes of Mumbai-ites or more broadly Maharashtrians. What better reason to prepare this delicacy than to satisfy the quench of those Vada Pav thirsty eyes?

This very popular, universally-loved street food needs no further introduction. The legend of Vada Pav goes back to mill workers in Mumbai....then known as Bombay. Supposedly, it originated as a quick to-go snack/ meal for people on the run. Slathered with exquisite chutneys, this flavorful burger worked as the perfect on-the-go meal. Quite similar to the burrito or even the original sandwich origin. Any soul who has savored it would know, that you don't really need to grow up eating it to crave for it.

I exactly wouldn't say that I was completely alien to this Indian version of the burger. The star of this dish-the Vada is eaten very frequently as a snack at home. Its lovingly referred to as "Alu chop" and of course any occasion was fit to either make it or order it from the closest sweets stall. Whoever has eaten the alu chop with "mudhi" or puffed rice, would remember the meld of flavors in the mouth when you bite into the crunchy puffed rice along with the savory and spicy fried potato balls. They make for a perfect snack to welcome any guest or to satisfy your urge for some fried spiced potatoes encased in chickpea flour. Pair it with marinated onions in lemon juice and chopped chilies and this snack wouldn't ever like to leave you.

So one eventful Saturday afternoon while reminiscing about the various street foods made us so nostalgic that we delved into trying this out. Armed with some help from my Ma along with valuable inputs of friends who have grown up eating this delicacy, I set on to try my hand at this.

Vada Pav

An indulgent Maharashtrian street food, Vada Pav is our very own spin to the burger. Slathered generously with exquisite chutneys, the Pav or the bun serves as the perfect carrier for the flavorful crispy potato dumpling fried in a spiced chick pea flour batter.


Making the Alu Chop aka the Vada
For the filling:
5 Medium sized potatoes
1 T Oil
6-7 Curry leaves
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 C Chopped Onions
1 1/4 T Ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1 T finely chopped Chilies (Optional)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Sugar

For the batter:
1 C Chick pea flour / Besan
2 T Cornstarch powder (I substituted for rice flour since I was aiming for some crispiness. Use 3 T rice flour if available).
1 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste (For those wondering,yes I do taste the batter to check for flavor ;)
1/2 C + 2T Water.
1/8th tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sugar


1. Mix in all the ingredients for the batter and keep aside for 10-15 minutes. This gives the batter enough time to mix well and for the baking soda to work.
2. For the potato mixture: Boil the potatoes till just done and keep aside to cool. Mash the potatoes when cooled.
3. In the meantime, heat oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and when the seeds start spluttering, add in the chopped onions. Once the chopped onions look translucent (1-2 minutes), pour in the ginger-garlic paste. Add in the turmeric powder, salt, chili powder, green chilies and sugar, all dissolved in 2 T of water.
Tip: Its very important to cook the paste thoroughly. One easy way to check, is to sniff and check if the raw smell disappears. Also, the oil starts floating, once the masala is done. Keep stirring the paste consistently and add in tiny amounts of water to avoid it from sticking to the pan.
4. Now add the masala mixture to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Keep aside for this mixture to cool properly before frying the vadas.
Tip: Using a cold potato mixture for the vadas ensures that the batter sticks to the potato filling and makes for cohesive vadas not the ones where the casing falls of the filling.
5. Heat up oil for frying. Make small rounds of the potato filling, dip it in the batter and fry it over medium heat. It takes about 30-45 seconds to fry one vada.

The Chutneys:
Khajoor Imli chutney: ~Sweet and slightly tangy, date chutney~
8-10 Pitted Dates.
1 C Water
1 1/2 tsp Tamarind extract
1 T Jaggery (Adjust as required)
1/2 tsp Dried Ginger powder (Sunthi)
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
A pinch of black salt
1/4 th tsp Chili powder (Optional)

Soak the tamarind separately in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes till both are soft. Squeeze out the tamarind pulp from the soaked tamarind.
In a pan over medium heat, add in the water and the chopped pitted dates. Cook till it boils gently and the dates look softer (~ 3-4 mins). Then add in the rest of the ingredients and adjust the sweetness with sugar/ jaggery according to your taste. Switch off the stove once the mixture looks glossy (~ 2 mins more after adding the rest of the ingredients).

Hari Chutney: ~Spicy and savory, cilantro chutney~
2 C Coriander/Cilantro leaves
1/2 C Dried Unsweetened Coconut
1/2 T Chopped Green Chilies
1/4 th tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Lemon juice

Grind the cilantro leaves to a paste, along with the green chilies, coconut and little bit of water if required. Mix in sugar, salt, lemon juice and adjust according to taste. This chutney should not be very watery, so avoid using too much water.

Assembling the Vada Pav:
1. Slit the burger buns and slather one side with khajoor chutney and the other with hari chutney. Sprinkle garlic chutney (Store bought) on the hari chutney side of the bun.
2. Place the vada on the bun and savor it with a side of fried green chilies and extra garlic chutney.

Time saving tips: 
1. The chutneys can be prepared atleast 1-2 days in advance and stored in a air tight jar in the refrigerator. 
2. The stuffing for the vada/alu chop can be prepared a day in advance, that way you won't waste time allowing it to cool down before frying. Fry them fresh the day of the party and enjoy all the lovely company.

For the alu chop, the variations are innumerous, add in veggies like the beet,nuts like the peanuts and of course, you could opt out of the ginger garlic paste to make it fit for upwaas. To me this represents a great way to have a gala time with friends where each one assembles their own Vada Pav as per their taste and feels like a star when they bite into it and enter their own sweet little trip down memory lane.

Have a great time entertaining buddies!
P.s: I am sending this recipe to :
- "Kid's Delight: Evening Snacks & Tiffin" hosted by Vardhini and Srivalli.
- "JCO: Monsoon of India" hosted by Sayantani and Jagruti
Kalyani and Priya for "Sandwiches".
- "Walk through memory lane" by Kalyani and Gayatri.
 - Kalyani and Vardhini for "Kitchen Chronicles – Only Vegan : Event Announcement".
- "Warm foods to beat the rain" hosted by The Pumpkin farm and Srivalli.
 - "30 minute meals" hosted by Srivalli 


  1. faboulous....thanks for sharing

  2. looks delicious....mouth-watering.....

  3. I surfed your blog and gosh I can't sleep properly today. Will have to cook something from the list on the right side. Tempting. Mouth watering. :)

  4. Lovely, a bong twist to the ever-so-awesome vada pav, khajoor ki chutney is an absolute winner anytime :)

  5. This is such a tempting post... you are right no one really needs to grow up eating these to crave for them... Your pictures have got me craving for them...

    It's my first time here... I'm loving it!

  6. Lovely one..thanks for the entry!


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