An ode to the fried potatoes. (And classic Indian batata vada recipe)
An ode to the fried potatoes
Is there a better phrase in the English language? We doubt it.
Chips, roesti, french fries, duck-fat roast potatoes, wedges, patatas bravas, hash browns... whatever the cuisine, if it's potatoes fried in something fatty, it's delicious. That's a fact.
Batada vada is an Indian version of the classic Aussie potato cake. Mashed up potato dipped in batter and deep fried. Indian flavours (yum) plus fried potatoes (double yum). A must have dish for any adventurer touring through India.
Classic Mumbai street food
In Indian street food parlance, a vada is a fried ball of something. Batada vada (or aloo vada) is a fried ball of potato – the batada vada is an icon of Mumbai street food.
Another icon of Mumbai street food is the pav – a soft white roll. Now, listen to this.
You take a toasted soft white roll, give it a generous buttering, then smother it with two kinds of chutney. And THEN put your yummy fried potato-ey batada vada in the middle. Combining these two bits of deliciousness is called a vada pav.
If that's not the answer to all hangovers, we don't know what is.
Where to get the real thing
Step 1. Go to Mumbai.
Step 2. You need to find what's called a pav wallah – someone with a street pav stand. Near a train station is your best bet. Look for a stall with with a queue – that's usually an indicator of good quality (and high turnover, which means the food hasn't been sitting around too long). Apparently, there are over 50,000 vada pav stalls in Mumbai, so you don't have to look too hard.
If you're in Mumbai, here's our favourite pav wallahs:
Aram – in the Capitol Cinema building, opposite CST station. This place has been here for 75 years - some of the best vada pav you're going to find in the city.
Babu Vada Pav – near Cosmos Bank, Hanuman Road, Vile Parle East. Babu has been running this stall since he was a youngster and there is always a throng of students and locals queueing up at lunch time.
Kunj Vihar Restaurant – near Thane Station West, Prabhavati Bhawan, Station Rd, Thane. This restaurant has a fantastic vada pav takeaway section.
Ashok Vada Pav – near Kirti College, Off Cadel Road, Kirti College Lane, Prabhadevi. A big vada pav with a red hot garlic chutney – delicious!
If you aren't in Mumbai... the recipe to make at home
These deep-fried treats are pretty simple to make – here's a 6-step recipe overview for those who can't focus long enough to read recipes:
- boil and mash potatoes
- make some batter
- fry some spices to add to the potatoes
- roll the spicy potato into balls
- dip the balls in batter and deep fry
And, in more detail, for those who might actually cook them:
- ½ kilo potatoes
- Oil for deep frying
- 200 gm chickpea flour, sifted
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp cumin
- pinch of baking soda
- oil for frying
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 5 curry leaves
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp finely chopped green chilli
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
- Peel potatoes, boil them until soft, mash coarsely.
- Put all dry batter ingredients in a bowl. Add water a little at a time, to make a smooth, thick batter.
- Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the curry leaves, followed by ginger, garlic, green chilli, turmeric and salt. Mix well and cook for a few minutes till the ginger and garlic are cooked. Add the spices and the chopped coriander to the mashed potatoes.
- Roll the potato mixture into golf-ball sized balls.
- Heat the deep frying oil in a deep pan or fryer. When the oil is hot, dip each potato ball in the batter and deep fry until golden crispy brown.
- Done. Eat them hot.
Serve with coriander and mint chutney, or even just a tomato sauce.
Or put it in a toasted soft buttered bread roll with coriander chutney and chilli-coconut chutney to create a classic Vada Pav. Swoon.
Chow down on that classic fried potato dish. You'll feel like you're at a train station in Mumbai (but perhaps a little less sweaty.)
Talk to My Adventure Travel for more travelling and street food advice and inspiration.