Food - Drink
Vada Pav: The Mumbai Potato Sandwich You Should Know
What Is Vada Pav?
Imagine a crispy fried potato stuffed into a toasted white burger bun and you have the general idea. The sandwich is made of “vada” — fried potato mash mixed with spices, chilis, and onions — and then deep fried; the vada is topped with achar and chutney and then served inside a bread roll called “pav.”
How Is It Made?
To make some vada potato mixture, boil your potatoes, mash them and add any desired spices, such as mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida, curry leaves, turmeric, and more. Once seasoned, form your mash into balls, roll it in chickpea batter, and then deep fry them; if you have the time, you could make some garlic chutney too.
What Does It Taste Like?
Depending on the chutneys added and the spices used, vada pavs can taste different from cook to cook; what is consistent is the soft, doughy texture of the pav and the crispiness of the vada. The dish’s versatility makes it an appropriate option for a snack or any meal of the day, and it goes great with coffee or tea.
Where To Buy It?
Vada pav originated with a clever Mumbai street vendor, Ashok Vaidya, who in the 1960s decided to combine vada and pav for an easy meal. Today, the sandwich is still sold at food stalls, but it has also been elevated by chefs like at Swati Snacks in Mumbai, where the vada pav was named one of the world’s best burgers by Bloomberg in 2020.
Nutritional Information
Traditional vada pav isn't exactly healthy, but there are a few swaps you can make to upgrade your sandwich. Choosing a whole wheat bun rather than a white bun will get you a few extra nutrients, and cooking vada potato patties over a low flame rather than deep-frying them can cut back on unnecessary oils, calories, and fat.
Other Varieties
You can still find the original vada pav sold by the son of the food’s inventor at the same stand. However, if you’re looking to branch out, there are endless varieties of vada pav, from atop salads, to inside steamed bao buns, served “inside out” style, or stuffed with melted cheese; there’s even a version with vada made of mashed banana.