A Tribute to the Vada Pav

OMG!!! Today I was a very bad girl. I was on my way home for lunch, from work, and I was beginning to get hungry. I had to stop by the electrical shop to get alight bulb for the kitchen. So I did so, reluctantly, because I was really getting hungry and just wanted to eat. As I was going toward the shop, I passed by the street vendor who sells vada pavs and thought to myself, “It would be nice to get something from him, but I know it’s loaded with oil.” So I continued on with my business, inquired about the bulb, and as I was paying for the goods, I just blurted out to the cashier the following question in Hindi, “Is the vada pav he sells there good?”, to which I got a response in the affirmative.

For some of you who do not know what a vada pav is, I shall attempt to explain: it is yummy! Just kidding. Vada is a short form for Batada Vada, which is essentially a ball of flavoured mashed potatoes mixed in with green chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves, salt, and turmeric. This vada is then bathed in a rich, complex coating of a liquid mixture of gram flour and spices, and deep fried in oil.

Pav is the Hindi word for an unflavored bun. So, vada pav is a sandwich of sorts, wherein a vada is stuffed within a bun, and eaten with sweet and spicy chutneys. I have not eaten a vada pav in 10 years, people. Every time I would visit India, I would run to eat other kinds of fast food and street food, so much so, that I forgot what a good vada pav tasted like. Today, on sheer impulse, I brought a vada pav (VP) for all of Rs. 8 ($0.25), and almost ran home. I just couldn’t wait to get home, and when I did, I threw everything on the bed, took the vada pav wrapped in news paper, took a few pictures from my phone camera, said a quick prayer to god to save me from any illness or infection that I may be struck with, took the biggest bite off the VP, and took a sigh of relief. It was orgasmic!  Here is an image of the vada pav that I brought off the streets this afternoon:

Vada Pav - Fresh off the street of Mumbai

Vada Pav - Fresh off the streets of Mumbai

In this picture, notice the newspaper that is soaked in oil. Look for the big dark spots:


Yummy! Don't miss the Green Chillies that accompany it.

Now, people who sell VPs, also tend to sell other food stuff such as onion bhajias, aloo (potato) bhajias, fried green chillies, etc. So, I couldn’t resist the onion and aloo bhajias and bought 6 rupees worth of it. A bhajia is yet another fired snack and is known by various names all over India. It is one of those fast foods that is endemic to the Indian culture and menu, and is most savored and enjoyed with chai, on a rainy day. A bhajia is made by taking a single vegetable or a mixture of vegetables, such a eggplant, onion, spinach, cauliflower, and potato, and bathing them in the gram flour batter ad deep frying it in oil. The VP guy had some onion and aloo bhajias and I packed some of those as well and enjoyed it for lunch. Here is a picture of my street food fest:

Bhajias Galore!

Bhajias Galore!

Everytime I took a bit of the bhajia or the VP, I would eat a tempered green chilli – I was in heaven!! It was spicy, yet mouth watering…..that’s seldom a combination I come across when I think of green chillies in India. Here is another picture of the oil spills around the bhajias:

Oil Spill!

Oil Spill!

Now, some people would argue that eating off the streets is unhealthy and is inviting trouble for your health, and rightly so. Who knows what water the guy has used, how old this oil must be and how many times he may have re-used it for frying, how many and what kinds of insects have feasted on the food, where this guys hands have been before he has touched the batter….the list is endless. And, I am humbly reminded that thousands of people in Mumbai live and thrive off this food, making it a staple for their meals, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

There are days, where, a true Mumbaiker, has to sometimes just bite the bullet, say a prayer, and enjoy the delicacies of the street, cuz that’s definitely the only way one can ever enjoy this kind of food.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anin
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 23:44:08

    I’m glad you were able to dive into the experience Rochelle. I am enjoying your blog – am learning so much about your homeland. Thank you. Today is Thanksgiving and I too will be enjoying food that perhaps isn’t the best for my health but . . . I promise you I will enjoy it. 🙂


    • Dr. Suri
      Nov 25, 2011 @ 00:01:28

      Thanks, Anin. I know it’s Thanksgiving there today and I was thinking about the city, and how festive it must be there as everyone is gearing up for Christmas. I really miss my beautiful, mothering, SF. How are you?


  2. Nusrat
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 02:35:50

    Hey Rosh,ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I am soooooooooooo tempted!!!!cant wait to dig in!!!sure you must have got a stomach ache as I have now eyed it,I have been craving for a VP for years and have not had one since nearly 6-7 yrs…Enjoy!!but do remember me when you have it the second time around..

    Can get the aroma here!!!Yummy.




    • Dr. Suri
      Nov 28, 2011 @ 11:08:19

      Yes, I did have a stomach ache when I was sleeping last night 🙂 My god! Your nazaar is powerful! But yes, I did relish my VP and will think of you the next time I eat it, though I am trying to not eat them as much as possible. Real unhealthy stuff!! Kisses – Rochelle.


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