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Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Delightful Vada Pav

 


It was raining when I stepped out on the platform of Mumbai Central several decades back. There was a flurry of activity in what seemed to be an ocean of people. The cacophony of porters, vendors of the ware, and shrill of loudspeakers announcing the departure and arrival of trains. I had taken just a few paces with my luggage in tow when I saw a  huge circle of people around a vendor who was frying vadas with a pile of fried green chillies, a pile of buns( I learnt later these were called pavs) and some chutneys around them. The vendor was disposing of the customers fast but the crowd kept swelling up even though some of them cleared. I too joined the melee and paid a princely sum of Rupees Two and took a piping hot vada pav wrapped in a piece pf old newspaper. The moment I unwrapped it., I fell in love with a glimpse of green chillies peeking from inside the bun with a golden vada peering below. The taste was awesome as the concoction melted in the mouth. It was my first taste of the divine ' vada pav'.

Since that time I have had countless 'vada pavs' at different places all over Maharashtra.. According to the different stories, the credit for this rustic version of a burger goes to Ashok Vaidya who started selling this at the Dadar station in Mumbai. whereas some attribute it to Sudhakar Mahatre of Khidki Vada Pav at the Kalyan station around the same time in 1966. There has been no looking back ever since as the crowded metro where time is always at a premium, this snack is prepared in a jiffy and can be eaten while standing, walking or moving, a prime reason for its mass popularity.

The spirit of local enterprise resulted in hundreds of outlets across the city and even though faced with a competition of the giants like McDonals in 1990's have gained strength with the passage of time.

The rustic delight is prepared with boiled potatoes, a dash of spices, curry leaves rolled into balls and deep-fried with a layer of chick pea batter. The piping hot 'vadas' are then inserted in a layer of bread called 'pav'' with a thin layer of chutney prepared with coriander leaves and chillies on one side and a garlic peanut chutney on the other side, topped with a fried green chilli. The entire process takes less than ten minutes and the sizzling vada pav leaves the customer wanting for more.. No matter how highly paid the film stars, cricketers for other businessmen there maybe, the love for 'vada pav' unites them alike.

I kept vising Mumbai for several years after having stayed a few years there, my love for the snack never waned. There were times I would return late from my project work from Navi Mumbai or other places around Mumbai, I would never fail to collect a couple of 'vada pavs' which I preferred to eat for dinner in lieu of other meal. One morning, when I entered the Mumbai office one of the senior management people who had just landed from the airport, asked the office helper to get him,'vada pav' which he had missed for a long time. 

Nowadays several kinds of 'vada pavs' have surfaced in several places like the variants with brown bread ( pav) healthier versions of vada but none can ever beat the conventional street-side 'vada pav'


PS: Image courtesy 'Vada Pav' prepared at home!


6 comments:

  1. Rushing out to get one now! :D

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  2. Sweet! This is quite a love letter to Vada Pav. :)

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  3. Rs 2 !!! :)
    it truly is a rustic version of a burger and how yummy! I had the best one at a local stall in Lonavla.
    is that jaggery & coconut power mix in the plate?

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  4. I agree that all over Maharashra there are some vendors dishing out excellent vada pav, The other two things you see by the side of the plate are the dry roasted peanut and green chutneys:)

    ReplyDelete